By Sara Minkoff, DNR Urban Forestry Council liaison
The Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council is an advisory committee to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry, providing guidance on the best ways to preserve, protect, expand and improve Wisconsin’s urban and community forest resources. Currently comprised of 27 people appointed by the Secretary of the WDNR, members represent the diverse groups and interests that impact our state’s urban and community forests, including representatives from professional organizations, private business owners, educators, green industry employees, nonprofit/service organizations, governmental agencies, municipalities of various sizes, utilities, concerned and active citizens and trade organizations throughout the state. The Council addresses strategies to help the WDNR implement, monitor, and revise the state’s urban forestry initiatives and to lend support to activities that further the understanding, appreciation and practice of urban forestry in Wisconsin. Members strive to aid all entities involved in urban forestry matters and to help coordinate activities to avoid duplication, inefficiency and conflict.
The Council recently welcomed five new members: Abe Lenoch, Ben Reince, Sarah Repp, Gail Sumi, and Alex Timmer.
Abe Lenoch: Abe grew up in Madison, attended the UW with a degree in Zoology and Environmental Studies, worked for three field seasons in forestry research for the DNR, and is currently Community Project Coordinator for 1000 Friends of Wisconsin. Abe is the Council’s member-at-large representing volunteer, service or environmental organizations.
Ben Reince: Ben grew up in Green Bay, where his love for trees started through exploring the city’s parks and climbing his family’s yard trees (until his father scolded him to get down!). During his studies at UWSP for an urban forestry degree, he worked for the City of Green Bay and City of Stevens Point forestry departments. After graduation, he headed to the Milwaukee area and started a career at Wachtel Tree Science. He’s currently a certified arborist, a Certified Tree Safety Professional, and now one of the owners. Ben is the Council representative to the Wisconsin Arborist Association.
Sarah Repp: Sarah graduated from UW Madison with a BS in Natural Resources in 2004. During her college education she worked a variety of jobs that allowed her to discover various interests and possible future careers, including the West Madison Agricultural Research Station, Dane County – Babcock Parks, the Forestry Department, and was employed by Memorial Library, Adventure Learning Programs, American Red Cross, and Bagels Forever. After college graduation, she served four years Active duty with the Navy, and was deployed twice (once on the Mighty Ike and once on the Carl Vinson). She is currently serving as the Park, Recreation and Cemetery Director for the City of Antigo. Sarah represents the Wisconsin Park & Recreation Association on the Council.
Gail Sumi: Gail is the Member Engagement and Communications Director for the League of Wisconsin Municipalities where she works strategically to increase member involvement and advocacy. She is responsible for the magazine and all of the League’s social media including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn. Gail has worked in government since 1986, starting as an aid in the State Capitol and including 10 years as a lobbyist for the Wisconsin Alliance of Cities. She also served as the AARP Wisconsin lobbyist and as the Government Relations Director for the American Cancer Society in Wisconsin. On the Council, Gail is our representative to the League of Wisconsin Municipalities.
Alex Timmer: Alex is an Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Architecture and Urban Planning. He received a BS in Architecture from the University of Michigan and a Master of Architecture from Harvard University. Prior to joining the Faculty at UWM, he was an inaugural Irving Innovation Fellows at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design where he worked to deepen the link between the studio pedagogy and the fabrication lab, exploring ways in which digital fabrication can provide productive feedback loops within the design studio. Alex has worked for several firms and architects while specializing in design and fabrication. Alex is one of our Council members representing higher education.
We are all looking forward to working with our new and current members for the enhancement of Wisconsin’s urban and community forests. In June the Council also said goodbye to several members with expiring terms: Kristin Gies, Tony Nowak, Maggie Pipek and Curt Witynski. All four provided valuable advice and insights into a variety of issues facing Wisconsin’s urban and community forests and their contributions are much appreciated.