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Recent Updates

April 2018 news from TREE Fund...

Read the latest edition of our monthly newsletter, the TREPress.

Seeking nominations for Ken Ottman Volun...

The Ken Ottman Volunteer Award is given annually to an individual whose contributions on behalf of TREE Fund are exemplary; previous recipients of the award are listed below. The Ottman Award does not exclusively recognize accomplishments for the prior twelve months. A committee of former recipients chaired by Jim Barborinas reviews nominations and makes the final award. Toward this end, we are seeking your nomination(s), should you have one or any, for this important recognition. If you would like to nominate one or more recipients, please send an email to Barbara Duke with the following information by April 30, 2018:

  1. Name of the person you are nominating:
  2. How the nominee supports the mission of TREE Fund (50-250 words):
  3. Which TREE Fund activities did the nominee participate in or support: Board of Trustees, TREE Fund Committees, Special Events, Fundraising
  4. Provide a brief quote describing why this nominee should receive the Ken Ottman Award (100 words max.) (May be used in TREE Fund publications):

We plan to announce this year’s recipient at TREE Fund After Hours held at the ISA International Conference in August.


Previous Ottman Award Winners:

2017:   Hallie Dozier and Frazer Pehmoeller

2016:   Beth Buchanan

2015:   Dick Rideout

2014:   Warren Hoselton

2013:   Terrill Collier and Wendy Robinson

2012:   Michael Neal

2011:   John Lloyd

2010:   Jim Zwack

2009:   John W. Goodfellow

2008:   Jim Barborinas

Tee off for TREE Fund at the Trees &...

Join us for an afternoon of golf in support of tree research and education at the 24th annual Asplundh Golf Outing to benefit TREE Fund.

Who: YOU!

What: Four-person scramble golf

Where: Shoreline Golf Course, 210 Locust Road, Carter Lake, IA 51510

When: Monday, August 27, 2018

Why: Great golf and a good cause (supporting tree research and education)


Get details, register, or sponsor a hole through Asplundh Tree Expert.  


Volunteer Spotlight: Peter Sortwell...

This month’s volunteer spotlight is shining on Peter Sortwell, Founder and CEO of Arborwell, and first-time Tour des Trees rider. Peter has always wanted to ride the Tour, but his busy life as an arborist, business owner, community volunteer and father left little time to pursue that goal. At his recent retirement as Chairman of the Board of TCIA, the organization surprised him with “seed” money for a Tour fundraising campaign. Peter immediately registered to ride and in the first week had turned that initial gift into ~$7,800 for tree research and education!

We are grateful for Peter’s many contributions to the tree community through the years, his enthusiasm for the Tour, and his leadership at TCIA that benefits all of us in the industry. Thank you, Peter, for your support of TREE Fund and its mission!


To suggest someone for the Spotlight, please contact Karen Lindell.


March 2018 news from TREE Fund...

Read the latest edition of our monthly newsletter, the TREE Press.

The Utility Arborist Research Fund: Adva...

By Randall H. Miller, Director of Research, Development an Industry Intelligence, CNUC


In the late 2000s, when I was on the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Journal of Arboriculture and Urban Forestry Editorial Board (now referred to Associate Editors), ISA sought International Organization for Standardization (ISO) accreditation for the journal. The application failed largely because too many articles did not meet ISO standards. Utility contributions were specifically identified as culprits, including some from researchers we held in high regard. The failure was an embarrassment for ISA, more so for the UAA, and awkward for me, as I had reviewed and approved some of the articles that were specifically criticized as scientifically deficient.

The message to the Editorial Board was clear: we had inadequately fulfilled our responsibility to ensure scientific rigor and had allowed publication of too many substandard articles for a periodical of the quality that the Journal of Arboriculture and Urban Forestry aspired to be. The board responded with steadfast focus on scientific methodology and statistical analysis. Rightly or wrongly, utility articles were particularly scrutinized. It became difficult for utility research to earn approval, as reviewers looked closely for flaws in methodology, analysis, and conclusions. Several utility research articles from prominent investigators were rejected, even though they resulted in solid recommendations we apply today. Consequently, utility researchers grew discouraged from submitting articles to the publication entirely. In fact, from 2010 to 2015, no utility-related research was published in the Journal of Arboriculture and Urban Forestry. That doesn’t mean utility research stopped, it just wasn’t printed in our profession’s scientific periodical.

The Utility Arborist Research Fund (UARF) holds promise to dramatically improve matters. As a past president of the UAA and former Chair of the TREE Fund Board of Trustees, I see clearly that the partnership between the two organizations is a strength of the UARF. TREE Fund is an ally of the UAA, and its board has a strong utility presence, with Will Nutter from Wright Tree Service, Dave Krause of Asplundh Tree Experts, and Tom Wolf of Davey. Progress toward and final achievement of the fund’s $1.0 million activation goal was monitored closely and celebrated at TREE Fund. The UAA and TREE Fund both have fundraising capabilities. The UAA can identify research topics, promote those of greatest benefit and recruit investigators. At the same time, TREE Fund is adept at managing endowed funds, prioritizing the highest quality projects, awarding the best among them grants, and publishing the results.

That doesn’t diminish the importance of strict adherence to scientific principles. TREE Fund’s Research Committee is committed to vetting research proposals, and will not award grants to projects they do not consider publishable. Utility investigators would benefit from collaborating with partners at full-time research institutions. After all, they are experts who understand how to design research that distinguishes significant results from those due only to chance. Approval from the TREE Fund Research Committee can assure us and the investigators that UARF projects are high-quality science, they will be published, and they will be successful.

Research has already been approved. The first UARF grants (2012 to 2014 ) supported John Goodfellow’s work to develop and prove a quantitative approach to determining optimal vegetation management (VM) spending and cycle times. The project Development of a Business Case for Scheduling Utility Vegetation Management (UVM) on a Preventive vs. Corrective Maintenance Basis was successful in constructing and validating a risk-based model that can support informed decisions on the tradeoffs between vegetation maintenance expense and tree-initiated risk to overhead distribution systems. The project report was issued in late 2015, and demonstrated that without consideration of the indirect cost impact of outages on customers, it may be difficult to establish a basis for preventive maintenance. A 2016 UARF grant to Christopher M. Halle, PhD (Sonoma State University) and Co-Investigator Claudia Luke, PhD (Sonoma State University) in cooperation with Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) Corporation compares the efficacy of mechanical-only versus mechanical-plus herbicide treatment in establishing low-growing native plant communities in a range of western ecosystems in the project called Integrated Vegetation Management (IVM) On Powerline Rights of Ways: Effects Of Vegetation Treatment On Plant Communities and Wildlife Diversity. The effects on local animals and pollinators will also be studied.

These projects are only the start. Beginning in 2018, TREE Fund, in consultation with the UAA, will award one to five UARF grants totaling $50,000 annually (minimum award of $10,000). There is no end to potential projects—determining optimal cycle lengths, the efficacy of separate approaches to single and three phase lines, wire-border zone investigations outside of Pennsylvania and California, whether “ground-to-sky” pruning negatively affects mass damping, how to improve public perception of utility arboriculture, etc.

The UARF has the potential to take us into a golden age of utility arboricultural research. By the UAA and TREE Fund working together with academic collaborators, we will position ourselves to dramatically improve our understanding of UVM, and better serve the companies for which we work as well as our customers, and ultimately our profession.


This article is courtesy of UAA Newsline Jan/Feb 2018. Content is reprinted with full permission of the publisher.

TREE Fund awards seventeen new grants in...



Contact: Karen Lindell

630-369-8300 x-203

News release in PDF format 


TREE Fund awards seventeen new grants in 2017

Funding empowers wide array of tree research and education projects across the globe


Naperville, IL, February 26, 2018 – TREE Fund is pleased to announce nearly $225,000 in new awards for urban tree research and education in 2017. With these grants, the 501(c)3 charity has provided over $3.4 million in funding since its inception in 2002.

Two of the 2017 awards are centered on improving worker safety in tree care, a critical focus in a perilous industry. The new Safe Arborist Techniques Fund grant line is looking at current safety standards, and the Frank E. Gamma, Sr. Arboriculture Education Fund supports Tree Care Industry Association’s Arborist Safety Training Institute, which brings high quality, local and affordable safety training to working arborists.

“The wide array of grants that TREE Fund awarded in 2017 demonstrates the extensive impact that we and our research partners can have on communities within and beyond the tree care industry,” notes TREE Fund President and CEO J. Eric Smith. “From the broad quantification of human health benefits gained from city trees to approaches for battling tree disease on a microbial level, we are seeking to empower tree care professionals at all levels, and to educate lay people and policy makers alike on the economic, health and aesthetic benefits of healthy urban canopies around the world.”  

2017 TREE Fund Hyland R. Johns Research Grant recipients:

Richard Hauer, PhD (University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point) is creating an easy-to-use tool to evaluate and track progress within urban forestry programs. Ultimately the “Sustainable urban forestry planning models and decision making dashboard” project will help urban forest planners create a story of the current state of their urban forestry program and identify areas to improve, thus leading to a sustainable urban forest program and tree population.

Kathleen Wolf, PhD (University of Washington) seeks to extract research about human health benefits specific to city trees and forests and conduct an economic valuation of such benefits. The “Urban forests for human health: a focused economic valuation” project will provide professionals in arboriculture, urban forestry, landscape design, etc. with additional data for justifying the costs of tree planning, planting and management.


2017 Safe Arborist Techniques Fund Grant recipient:

Brian Kane, PhD (University of Massachusetts Amherst) is collecting and analyzing safety standards from around the world in the “Arboricultural safety around the world” project. It will serve as a foundation for future studies into safe working practices in arboriculture.


2017 Directed Research Grant recipients:

Eric Wiseman, PhD (Virginia Tech) and Co-Investigator Sarah Gugercin (Virginia Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation) is cataloging organizations involved with arboriculture/urban forestry educational grant-making programs in recent years. The “Education Review Program” project will provide a thorough analysis on such programs to guide decision-making on future TREE Fund Arboriculture Education grants.

Andrew Koeser, PhD (University of Florida – Gulf Coast REC) and Co-Investigator Rich Hauer, PhD (University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point) aims to conduct a comprehensive review of all past TREE Fund-supported research in their study “Research Review Program.” Their work will gauge direct and indirect outcomes, outputs, and impacts of the funded projects. 


2017 John Z. Duling Grant recipient:

Nina Bassuk, PhD (Cornell University) seeks to improve tree transplant success and ultimately provide greater tree species diversity in the nursery industry via root manipulation. In the “Enhancing Tree Transplant Success through the Manipulation of Root Hydraulic Conductance” project, Dr. Bassuk will manipulate root growth to increase the rate and efficiency of water uptake, resulting in a production practice that can improve a tree’s ability to respond to transplant shock.


2017 Jack Kimmel International Grant recipients:

Kimmel grants are supported by Canadian TREE Fund and its riders in the Tour des Trees outreach and fundraising event.

Rachael Antwis, PhD and Co-Investigator Stephen Parnell, PhD (both University of Salford, U.K.) are exploring natural microbial communities of trees as a way to address emerging infectious diseases such as the chalara fungus infecting ash. The “Fighting microbes with microbes to protect our native trees” study aims to identify microbial signatures of ash resistance to chalara and markers of host gene expression to identify resistant trees for cultivation and reforestation. 

Liliana Franco-Lara, PhD and Co-Investigator Helena Brochero, PhD (both Universidad Militar Nueva Granada) aim to better understand the diseases caused by phytoplasma (a type of bacteria) that are affecting urban trees in Bogotá, including the strategically important Andean oak (Q. humboldtii). The “Identification of possible insect vectors of phytoplasmas in Quercus humboldtii Bonpla in Bogotá, Colombia” project will detect the insects associated with the Andean oak and identify the species that may be transmitting the bacteria. Findings will serve to define strategies to manage and reduce the spread of phytoplasmal diseases.


2017 Arboriculture Education Grant recipients:

Friends of the Urban Forest (San Francisco, CA) – The “Green Teens – Vocational Skills Job Training” initiative provides practical job skills training to low-income, high school aged youth. It is an integral part of the organization’s plans to expand and preserve San Francisco’s tree canopy, while empowering at-risk youth.

TreeFolks (Del Valle, TX) – With the “Youth Tree Climbing Initiative” TreeFolks will expand its active and educational urban forestry activities for underserved youth in Austin to include tree climbing.


2017 Ohio Chapter ISA Education Grant recipient:

Columbus State Community College (Columbus, OH) – The “Columbus State Arboriculture Education Expansion and Tree Care Academy Project” seeks to increase awareness of the field of arboriculture and create an entry point for the college’s new Arboriculture Technician Certificate. The weeklong Youth Tree Care Academy for students age 16+ provides a hands-on introduction to arboriculture as well as the certificate program. 


2017 Frank E. Gamma, Sr. Arboriculture Education Fund recipient:

Tree Care Industry Association Foundation (Londonderry, NH) – This grant supports the Arborist Safety Training Institute which works to bring high quality, local and affordable safety training to working arborists. ASTI provides grants for job and safety training to minimize injury and promote overall workforce safety.


2017 Scholarship recipients:

Robert Felix Memorial Scholarship

  • Laura Mantin, Humber College, ON, Canada
  • Conor Smith, University of New Hampshire

Horace M. Thayer Scholarship

Timothy Lentz, University of Delaware

John Wright Memorial Scholarship

Savannah Haines, University of Maine

Fran Ward Women in Arboriculture Scholarship

Jennifer Halterman, Pennsylvania State University


View all past recipients of TREE Fund grants at


About TREE Fund

Tree Research and Education Endowment (TREE) Fund is a 501(c)3 charity dedicated to the discovery and international dissemination of new knowledge in urban forestry and arboriculture (the science of caring for trees in a landscape). TREE Fund awards scholarships and education grants to engage and support the next generation of tree stewards, and multiple research grants to improve the science, safety and practice of arboriculture.

With support from individual donors and Partners, TREE Fund research has contributed to:

  • Improving conditions for tree growth in difficult sites
  • Developing strategies to manage diseases and pests that affect urban trees
  • Improving utility line clearing practices
  • Understanding air pollution reduction and carbon sequestration by trees
  • Determining the costs and benefits of urban trees   

For more information, visit


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February 2018 news from TREE Fund...

Read the latest edition of our monthly TREE Fund Bulletin.

January 2018 news from TREE Fund...

Read the latest edition of our monthly TREE Fund Bulletin.


Holiday Special: Donate for a Chance to ...

In the spirit of holiday giving, and thanks to a generous supporter who has offered this incentive, December 18 – 25, 2017, each $50 gift made to TREE Fund’s 15th Anniversary Appeal gives you a chance to win a $250 Visa gift card.
How nice would it be to have extra cash after the holidays for paying off bills or treating yourself?
Click the DONATE NOW button on the right or send a check to TREE Fund, 552 S. Washington St., Ste. 109, Naperville, IL 60540 (must be postmarked during the promotion period). Winner will be announced January 3, 2018.
100% of your tax-deductible gift to TREE Fund empowers tree research and education that helps keep the urban forest growing strong. Thank you for your support!

Register today!

You don't want to miss our TWO webinars in May: Invasive Insects of Shade Trees (May 2) and a Utility Arborist Research Fund Update (May 23). Registration is open for both at

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