Missourians recognized for making trees work in their communities

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- For more than 30 years, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and the Missouri Community Forestry Council (MCFC) have partnered to recognize Missourians who are outstanding stewards of community trees.

At this year’s Missouri Community Forestry Council Conference, a new group of recipients were given Missouri Arbor Awards of Excellence. The awards were presented by MDC Community Forestry Coordinator Russell Hinnah.

“The Missouri Arbor Awards of Excellence highlight the people and organizations working to provide sustainable, long-term efforts to care for trees,” said Hinnah. “Their work is extremely important to assure the many economic, social, and environmental benefits of a healthy community forest.”

No matter what size the community, trees are visible and valuable assets, contributing to the appearance and character of the town. They are also part of the public infrastructure and play an essential role in the community by reducing stormwater runoff, providing cooling shade during hot weather, improving air quality, making neighborhoods safer and improving property values.

Nominations for this year’s awards were evaluated based on sustainability, innovation, the use of sound tree management principles, the impact on the community, and the effectiveness of the activity. Statewide, a total of five award winners were recognized.

Individual Category

Troy Powell

Troy Powell has led the MCFC Arbor Day Poster Contest in Springfield for over 10 years and in 2022 he led the effort for the entire state of Missouri. In Springfield, Troy works with volunteers who visit area schools to present the poster contest to 5th grade students and teachers. Each school event includes a tree planting session and a presentation on the history of Arbor Day. By taking his work statewide and working with new partners, Troy’s work led to more cities and schools participating in the program than ever before. Troy has also been instrumental in leading multiple workdays to weed, prune, and mulch the planting beds at the Springfield Veteran’s Cemetery and Trail of Honor.

David Ball

David Ball spends his days working for a local non-profit organization, but he always finds time to help with planting projects. This includes serving on the St. Joseph tree board and helping to revise the City of St. Joseph’s tree ordinance. David has also coordinated planting projects for other non-profits and city divisions. David has made it his mission to remove invasive bush honeysuckle in city parks. He works with the parks director to identify the problem areas and organizes workers to do the work. In the past couple years David has worked on multiple projects removing invasives and helped plant 30 trees in five different pocket parks throughout St. Joseph.

Organization Category

Tower Grove Park

In 2021, Tower Grove Park in St. Louis realized their tree canopy was in decline and number of species was getting very limited, with only 21 species represented in the park’s 3,500 trees. This meant the landscape had become increasingly distanced from the historic plan, compromising the history and character of the park. Park leadership initiated a tree restoration master plan that not only included a plan to plant 1,000 new trees over the next five years, but also included a more comprehensive framework to guide tree planting and removals to refocus the park around its original historic framework. They convened a tree expert panel to determine species that will perform well in a rapidly warming climate and set the entire plan using ArcGIS to assure accurate tracking and implementation.

Business/Institution Category

MD-Kinney, a division of Ingersoll Rand

Over the last few years the Southwest Missouri Community Forestry Council has worked with a veterans group at MD-Kinney in Springfield. Council members provided the know-how and coordination for workdays to prune and mulch around trees and shrubs. During the workdays the veterans learn how to care for the trees and plants in Springfield’s Veterans Cemetery and along the Trail of Honor, located on the north edge of the cemetery. These workdays have provided the service members a way to give back to their fellow service members and learn about tree care.

Municipality/Government Category

City of Grandview

The City of Grandview has consistently demonstrated the value of the trees in their community. Grandview has been designated a Tree City by the Arbor Day Foundation for the last 28 years. Tree City designation requires communities to spend at least two dollars per capita on tree care, have a tree ordinance, tree board and an annual Arbor Day celebration and dedication. This year Grandview held their 35th Arbor Day celebration and tree dedication. Using MDC cost-share funding, the city also completed two critical tree projects, including a tree inventory for all parks and city properties and a tree planting project that put 29 trees throughout the community. The tree inventory will help the city better manage their trees and provide up-to-date tree information that their residents can view at any time. Grandview has plans for years to come for additional projects to preserve and add trees to their city.

For more information about improving trees and green space in Missouri communities, visit https://mdc.mo.gov/community.