Staff Highlights of 2022

As the year wraps up, we at the DNR Urban Forestry Program have found it full of innovative projects and new and wonderful partnerships, and we have grown closer as a team. We thank everyone for your interest and look forward to another great year in 2023!

For now, we wanted to share some of our favorite highlights from this year!

Back row: Dan Buckler, Olivia Wittun, Jeff Roe, Laura Buntrock, Brian Wahl, Nicolle Spafford
Front row: Kirsten Biefeld, Kim Sebastian, Odell Kimble, Kolin Bilbrew, Patricia Lindquist, Tracy Salisbury, Abby Krause

Jeff Roe, Urban Forestry Team Leader

“I enjoy watching my staff grow and work together. This year we have added some new staff and had others move into new roles. Watching these staff step into these roles and work seamlessly with the rest of the team and partners has been a highlight. Both Abby Krause and Kirsten Biefeld have hit the ground running and are fully engaged with the team. Patricia Lindquist and Dan Buckler moved into FTE positions and continued their great work with enthusiasm and passion. We also had two summer interns (Odell and Kolin) that brought new perspectives to the program.”

Dan Buckler working with a volunteer on the heat mapping project.

Dan Buckler working with a volunteer on the heat mapping project

Dan Buckler, Urban Forest Assessment Specialist

“It’s hard not to reflect on the busy summer when thinking about the highlights of 2022. Much of it was spent with two interns from Southern University, Kolin and Odell, who worked on a project to help us understand the relationship between tree health and planting strip quality. I was also fortunate to coordinate a heat mapping campaign in Milwaukee, an effort that hopefully will help galvanize support for trees and other green infrastructure.”

 

Kim Sebastian, Southeast Regional Urban Forestry Coordinator

Left to right: Dan Buckler, Odell Kimble, Kolin Bilbrew, Kim Sebastian

“In my 31st year as an urban forestry coordinator, I was lucky to experience several firsts in 2022! I participated in a MANNRS (Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences) LEAD virtual mentorship. I came out with a great learning experience and a new friend in Nebraska. During the beginning of the year, through the development of a Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District tree planting program, Reforestation and Wetland Restoration, we grew our partnership and relationships. The first of many trees planted and friendships formed!

This summer, our program hosted two interns from Southern University. These students became great technicians and collected data to support a new Urban Site Index Study. It was incredible to see our partners stepping up, sharing and offering expertise – municipalities, utilities, non-profits, outreach and education and internal staff. Two new friends in Louisiana and dozens more strengthened over the year! Looking forward to more firsts in 2023.”

 

Laura Buntrock, Urban Forestry Policy & Partner Specialist

“This year has flown by. I guess that’s what happens when you’re having fun and working with great people. The most notable event for me this year was the passing of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, which includes $1.5 BILLION dollars for Urban and Community Forestry. I am excited to see what we will accomplish with our partners in Wisconsin and across the country with this historic funding.”

Abby Krause, West Regional Urban Forestry Coordinator

“Being new to the position, my favorite part of the year was simply getting to know the communities in my region. I met folks at networking meetings, assisted with grant questions and conducted site visits with communities reaching out to the Urban Forestry Program for the first time! I look forward to connecting with even more communities in 2023.”

Nicolle Spafford, Urban Forestry Financial Specialist

“It was wonderful to finally be able to connect with our UF team at a face-to-face meeting in July. I enjoyed seeing everyone, especially being able to communicate without masks and seeing their smiles! (Witnessed Jeff Roe execute a handstand!) Throughout the year, I’ve enjoyed working with our partners/customers. I enjoy hearing about their projects and assisting them with their grants. In November, I had the opportunity to attend the Partners in Community Forestry Conference in Seattle, WA. This conference was engaging and energetic. Having the opportunity to network with different states and hear about their urban forestry programs was very enlightening.”

Tracy Salisbury, Northeast Regional Urban Forestry Coordinator

“2022 was a breath of fresh air with the comforting feel of normalcy. It was great seeing our community partners and team members in person. My highlight was attending the WAA/DNR Annual Urban Forestry Conference. It was good to see so many familiar faces and catch up! With my 25th DNR anniversary just around the corner, I’m so lucky to do what I love with people who share that same passion. Thanks for all that you do to keep our communities green!”

Olivia Wittun, East Central Regional Urban Forestry Coordinator

CTMI students participating in a group project

“Projects were the highlights of my year. The first was the completion of a 4-year-long analysis of the economic contributions of urban and community forestry in the Northeast-Midwest region (20 states and Washington, D.C.). The analysis included economic impact numbers, employment numbers, an industry outlook and a resource valuation. Final products included regional, state and methodology reports and factsheets.

The second project was CTMI (Community Tree Management Institute). After being postponed twice, we could finally kick off CTMI V in person this fall. We also hosted a one-day CTMI Graduate Workshop over the summer. Plus, we hosted a virtual CTMI webinar in the spring. It’s been great to see people again and provide them with knowledge and resources to help them manage their trees.”

Brian Wahl, South Central Regional Urban Forestry Coordinator

“So many great things this past year! My favorite is probably partnering with the City of Sun Prairie to set up a soil decompaction demonstration project. We wanted to see how effective various soil treatments will be at dealing with typical crummy urban planting spaces – from mulch to excavation and terraces to parks. I can’t wait to see how it all pans out! In addition, finally kicking off CTMI V after being canceled twice! It’s always great to see new faces eager to learn about urban forestry. Finally, I participated in my first 5K, “Run for The Trees.” I mention this not to brag (ok, maybe a little), but because this 5K helps raise funds for trees in state parks, maybe you will join me this year?”

Patricia Lindquist, North Central Regional Urban Forestry Coordinator

“This was my first year in my new job as Urban Forestry Coordinator for the North Central Region, and my highlight was meeting and starting to work with the terrific urban foresters in my region. There’s such a wealth of knowledge and passion here and a willingness to help each other. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you and look forward to working together for many years to come!”

Kirsten Biefeld, Urban Forestry Outreach Specialist and Urban Forestry Council Liaison

“A theme for my first year in my position was learning! I have gotten to learn the basics, such as how to run the Urban Forestry Newsletter, to getting to develop my own projects (I will share them as they develop!). The true highlight of my time here has been meeting such wonderful people, from the dedicated members on the Urban Forestry Council to my amazing teammate at the Urban Forestry Program. I look forward to all the new and exciting experiences we will have in 2023. I am excited for you to follow along on this journey with us!”

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