MDC’s Wendy Sangster honored at Kansas City’s Arbor Day ceremony April 13

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Kansas City, Mo. – A 37-year Arbor Day tradition in Kansas City is a tree planted in Loose Park in honor of someone who has contributed greatly to urban forestry in the metro area. On April 13, the honoree was Wendy Sangster, a community conservation planner for the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC). Sangster served as an urban forester for much of her 27-year career with MDC. She has coordinated tree planting events, doled out tree care advice, and worked with cities and private conservation groups in the metro area.

Honorees choose what tree is to be planted, and Sangster chose a chinkapin oak. The tree was planted on the west side of Loose Park, southwest of the rose garden.

“Chinkapins are my very favorite oak,” she said. “I admire how hardy they are. They typically grow in glades or in prairies, often in poor soil. You’ll find chinkapins growing where you won’t find any other trees, and they are great for wildlife.”

Family and friends were on hand for the tree planting ceremony led by Mark L. McHenry, a member of the Missouri Conservation Commission and a former director of Kansas City Parks and Recreation. Richard Allen, deputy director for Kansas City parks, pointed out that trees benefit people by reducing heat in cities, by improving air and water quality, and by boosting physical and emotional health.

“Trees make our places better places to live,” Allen said.

Taylor Neff, MDC community forester, gave to ceremony attendees and passersby some chinkapin and buttonbush shrub seedlings for them to plant at home. The seedlings were grown at MDC’s George O. White State Forest Nursery. Neff pointed out that Arbor Day began in 1872 in Nebraska and spread to become a national holiday celebrating the benefits trees provide.

“We need trees for our water, our soil, our wildlife, and our wellbeing,” Neff said.

Kansas City Forester Kevin Lapointe also noted the importance of trees, and he read an Arbor Day proclamation by Mayor Quinton Lucas. A benefit for honorees and people who attend the annual ceremony is watching the new trees grow as the years pass, Lapointe said. The park’s trees are maintained as the Stanley R. McLane Arboretum, which was established in 1972.

Sangster joins others from MDC as a recipient of an Arbor Day tree planting in Loose Park. Preceding her were urban foresters Larry Lackamp, red oak; Jerry Monterastelli, bald cypress, and Helene Miller, bur oak. Missouri Conservation Commission members honored include Mark McHenry, tulip tree, and Anita Gorman, white bud tree.

For more information about planting the right trees in the right places to benefit your home, neighborhood, or community, visit