The Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council (UFC), comprised of municipal employees, elected officials, nursery operators and arborists, advises the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Division of Forestry on the best ways to manage urban and community forest resources.
Every year, the Council bestows several awards to recognize and thank individuals, organizations, communities and tribes across Wisconsin for their work and commitment to trees, plantings, habitat and the economic benefits they provide. The awards are announced at the annual Wisconsin Urban Forestry Conference in February and presented to winners in their communities.
We are currently seeking nominations for next year’s awards. The deadline for 2022 nominees is Oct. 31, 2021. However, you can nominate your community tree champions at any time.
There are five categories of awards, including our new Next Gen award:
- Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes outstanding contributions to urban forestry in Wisconsin demonstrated throughout a lifetime career.
- Project Partnership Award recognizes outstanding projects that utilize partnerships to provide services or benefits to the urban forest.
- Leadership Award recognizes an individual or elected official at the county or local level of government who has made an outstanding recent contribution to urban forestry in Wisconsin. This recipient could be a mayor, alderman, county executive or citizen who has gone above and beyond in their support. Wisconsin State Legislators who have made outstanding contributions to urban forestry will also be considered after completing their terms of office.
- Innovations in Urban Forestry Award recognizes a community, individual, association, or organization exhibiting outstanding innovations in developing or enhancing an urban forestry project or program. This award recognizes the creativity, commitment and success of urban forestry efforts.
- Next Gen Award recognizes an organization or individual working to inspire and educate the next generation of citizens engaged with their urban forests through projects, activities, and a variety of additional contributions. These inspiring adults will support the future growth and development of the field by encouraging these youth to become the next generation of urban forestry professionals and their supporters. Eligible programs engage youth through age 18.
Nominations for 2022 awards must be submitted by Oct. 31, 2021, and include:
- Suggested award category.
- Name(s), address(es) and phone number(s) of the individual/organization, group or project being nominated.
- Project name, if applicable.
- Name(s), address(es) and phone numbers(s) of persons to be contacted regarding the nomination.
- A description of the merits of the nominee or the achievements of the project or partnership. Include the goals/objectives of the project and detail the outcome or impact the action had on the community. Why do you believe this nominee is deserving of the award? Feel free to attach any supporting documents (news clippings, photos, letters, etc.) that strengthen the nomination.
Please keep nominations to a maximum of two pages (not including attachments).
Send nominations to Sara Minkoff, DNR Forestry Specialist, at Sara.Minkoff@wisconsin.gov. For additional information, please contact a Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council member or regional urban forestry coordinator.
2021 UFC Award Recipients
This year’s awards included service groups involved in tree planting, a model urban wood utilization project and exemplary service to their communities from three urban foresters. Following are recipients of these awards, announced at the 2021 Wisconsin Arborist Association/DNR annual urban forestry conference in February.
- Project Partnership: Restoration of Our Trees Sheboygan (ROOTS)
Restoration of our Trees Sheboygan, also known as ROOTS, is a collaborative effort between the Sheboygan Rotary Club and Lakeshore Natural Resource Partnership created to address the threat of emerald ash borer to Sheboygan County’s rich forestry resources. The group has created effective partnerships with municipalities, businesses, nonprofit organizations and individuals to enhance the area’s urban canopy. This year, ROOTS formed a new grant program for local governments in Sheboygan County to help them manage ash trees beyond putting new trees in the ground and focusing on planning and public awareness. This exceptional project has demonstrated how working together brings enormous advantages for both the urban forest and the people living among it.
- Innovations in Urban Forestry: DeForest Urban Lumber in Park Buildings
The Village of DeForest was recognized for its achievement in developing an innovative and effective process for utilizing local urban ash trees that were being removed due to an EAB infestation in the construction of a municipal park building. As park staff faced both the removal of some ash trees and the reconstruction in Fireman’s Park, DeForest’s largest community park, they decided to reuse what they could from these stately trees. The urban lumber salvaged from the trees has been used in these three unique ways: interior and exterior trim for the buildings and park picnic tables; enhancing the park’s buildings and recreational areas and demonstrating their commitment to keep planting; caring for trees so the community can continue to have an urban canopy in the future. This project also serves as an example to other communities on using their local wood resources to benefit their communities. This wood would typically have been turned into firewood, mulch or sent to the landfill. DeForest found a way to use these local fallen trees for their highest purpose. With a willingness to be creative, DeForest has demonstrated that local urban wood use is not only possible but affordable and adds tremendous value to their urban forestry program.
- Distinguished Service: Cindy Kohles
Cindy Kohles is an exceptional leader in Wisconsin’s urban forestry community and has served with distinction as the Village of Gays Mills volunteer forester for many years. Through her hard work, perseverance and the successful acquisition of multiple DNR urban forestry grants, the village’s tree program has grown under Kohles’ energetic leadership. Despite several major floods and wind events, Gays Mills’ forestry program has excelled. Kohles’ many accomplishments exemplify her dedication and energy. Her efforts have resulted in the village becoming a leader in small community tree care and regional urban forestry training in southwestern Wisconsin. The Village was recently recognized as the smallest community in the country to achieve the designation of a Tree City USA Growth Award from the Arbor Day Foundation, a true testament to Kohles’ commitment and passion for their urban forest.
- Lifetime Achievement: John Neumann
John Neumann was recognized for his leadership and dedication to promoting and improving urban forestry, especially within his city of Beaver Dam, where he is the Parks and Forestry Supervisor. For the past 27 years, Neumann has been increasing and diversifying Beaver Dam’s tree canopy. Neumann understands you can accomplish a lot more when leveraging partnerships. His connections with local businesses support Beaver Dam’s forestry program not only financially but with volunteers as well. His knowledge, experience and humble nature have made him the go-to tree expert across Dodge County. His efforts have included outreach and education, creating a city tree nursery, working on Arbor Day celebrations and establishing partnerships with the local Walmart and Rotary Club to provide funding and volunteers for tree planting events. Neumann always has the interest of trees in mind. His impact will endure, and his work will continue to provide multiple benefits to the residents of Beaver Dam for decades.
- Leadership: Dennis Fermenich
Dennis Fermenich, City Forester for the City of Greenfield, is well-deserving of this year’s Leadership Award. Fermenich’s vision and leadership have catapulted Greenfield’s urban forestry program to the next level. Fermenich has played an indispensable role in the City’s positive transformation from “Concrete City” to “Tree City,” even gaining the designation as “Bee City” recently. His wealth of knowledge, collaborative mindset, generosity in sharing his expertise, passion and dedication have positively impacted the development of a comprehensive community urban forest enjoyed by all city residents. Fermenich is creating a legacy that future generations of residents will enjoy.
Visit the Urban Forestry Council Annual Awards webpage to learn more and view past award winners.