Staff highlights of 2019

As the year draws to a close, we asked DNR urban forestry staff to reflect on the last twelve months and choose their top highlight – whether it’s a project they’re especially proud of, a new partnership, or a deeper relationship with coworkers. Here are their responses:

“My highlight of the year was working with park staff and 45 volunteers from Johnson Controls to plant 170 trees at Havenwoods State Forest.”  -Dan Buckler, Urban Forestry Assessment Outreach Specialist

“I enjoyed watching Barron, Wisconsin with a bare bones tree program attain Tree City USA for the first time and quickly start growing their community forestry program. In the same year (2019), they did a tree inventory and urban forest management plan. They also experienced a violent windstorm which encouraged them to apply for and receive a catastrophic storm grant, as well as reinventory their damaged forest. Finally, they were awarded a start-up grant to begin to operationalize portions of their new forest management plan. This all happened in 2019 with grants and assistance from the DNR Urban Forestry Program.”  -Brad Johnson, West Regional Urban Forestry Coordinator

“Working with Brad Johnson and Bluestem Forestry Consulting to provide four northwest Wisconsin communities (cities of Barron, Shell Lake, Hayward and Village of Frederic) with the opportunity to complete street/parks/cemetery tree inventories and companion operations plans. Then using the plan recommendations to apply and successfully receive 2020 Urban Forestry Start-Up Grant funds. All of this was performed in less than one year.”  -Don Kissinger, North Central Regional Urban Forestry Coordinator

“I just started working for the DNR in October, and my top highlight is the incredibly warm welcome I’ve received from the urban forestry team. I feel very fortunate to have such supportive, caring, dedicated, and passionate coworkers.”  -Patricia Lindquist, Urban Forestry Communications Specialist

“The inaugural Good Health Grows on Trees conference attracted over 125 registrants from diverse professional backgrounds to learn about and discuss the health benefits provided by urban and community forests. Keynote speaker Dr. Kathy Wolf joined us from the University of Washington-Seattle and was followed by a series of presentations from Wisconsin-based researchers. The success of this conference has given the DNR urban and community forestry program a ton of energy and excitement around this topic, and we look forward to exploring and determining our next steps.”  -Laura Lorentz, Urban Forestry Policy and Partner Specialist

“Every day I have the opportunity to work with dedicated and committed professionals who treat each other with respect and kindness. I get to do important, interesting work; am trusted to develop my own solutions and approaches to projects; and have colleagues I enjoy working with. I am especially proud of the collaborative work developing the Good Health Grows on Trees conference, the deep engagement of the Urban Forestry Council in both the Forest Action Plan and the 2019 Biennial Report, and the continued success of our partnership with Wisconsin Arborist Association in providing training and networking opportunities for the urban tree community.”  -Sara Minkoff, Urban Forestry Specialist

“Brad hosted Urban Forestry in Spooner (the center of the world) for the summer team meeting. I really enjoyed the team building activities, including a tour of the fish hatchery.”  -Chase O’Brien, Urban Forestry Grants Manager

“The response to the small group activity generating training ideas during the February Bureau meeting was a highlight. The engagement and enthusiasm of staff was fantastic.”  -Jeff Roe, Urban Forestry Team Leader

“My highlight is learning more about my team. The icebreaker at our November team meeting was so much fun. Who knew that our team is linked to the Titanic, skydiving, President Lyndon B. Johnson, Ironman Triathlon, Donald Driver, eating Hakarl (fermented Greenland shark) and international competitive dancing just to name a few! You guys have so many hidden talents!”  -Tracy Salisbury, Northeast Regional Urban Forestry Coordinator

“Helping our partners by doing tree planting inspections in our local communities. A great way to connect with our foresters!”  -Kim Sebastian, Southeast Regional Urban Forestry Coordinator

“Being new to urban forestry, my top highlight was meeting all the awesome individuals on the urban forestry team and meeting the partners we serve.”  -Nicolle Spafford, Urban Forestry Financial Specialist

“One of my highlights was seeing several things finally come together: the Wisconsin Community Tree Map, the WDNR Urban Tree Key and UW-Stevens Point’s LEAF program – offering course work training and encouraging teachers to involve their students in inventorying and advocating for the trees on school campuses.”  -Brian Wahl, South Central Regional Urban Forestry Coordinator

“I have two highlights:

1) WI DNR Urban Forestry contracted with North Carolina State University to begin analysis for the project titled, Financial contributions of the urban forest industry and resource in the Northeastern Area. This is a 3-year project funded by the U.S. Forest Service through their Landscape Scale Restoration Program. 

2) WI DNR Urban Forestry hosted the second-ever CTMI (Community Tree Management Institute) Graduate Workshop. The training was held over two days in September and included the following topics: Funding Opportunities, Risk Tree Assessment, Insect & Disease Diagnosis, and Species & Site Selection. Twenty-one CTMI graduates registered representing a population of 230,000 Wisconsin residents.” 

-Olivia Witthun, East Central Regional Urban Forestry Coordinator


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