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Who Run the World? Famous Female Foresters

March is Women’s History Month, so what better time to highlight and celebrate the contributions of women to forest-related fields.

Anyone who has ever used a circular saw has Tabitha Babbitt to thank. In a Massachusetts town dependent on the forestry industry, she often saw men wasting energy cutting logs on a pit saw. In 1810 she thought to attach a circular blade to her spinning wheel. The rest is history.

Forest Service employee Margaret March-Mount was better known as “Ambassador of the trees.” During her tenure at the Forest Service from 1913-1943, she worked tirelessly to encourage tree planting throughout the country. Her famous catch phrase? “Bombs explode, pines grow.”

When Margaret Stoughton Abell joined the Forest Service in 1930, she earned the distinction of the first women forester. She worked on nearly every project conducted at the Appalachian Forest Experiment Station and paved the way for future female foresters and scientists.

While Rachel Carson worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1943, it wasn’t until she resigned in 1952 to pursue writing that she rocked the conservation world. Her bestselling book Silent Spring is widely credited with bringing the environmental movement into the mainstream.

In the 1970s, Wangari Maathai changed the world. The first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctorate degree, Maathai established a grassroots organization, the Green Belt Movement, to reforest land and empower women.

Green Party Presidential candidate, Minister of the Environment, United Nations’ Champions of the Earth, and the first rubber tapper ever elected to the federal senate – Brazilian Marina Silva has accomplished quite a lot. A native Amazonian, she remains one of the fiercest activists for environmental protection of the rainforest.

Not to mention our three tree-mendous International Society of Arboriculture Certified Arborists here at Casey Trees. Becky Schwartz, from our Tree Planting team, notes “Casey Trees expects a high level of professional development and education. I became a certified arborist to continue this precedent and increase my knowledge and expertise. I hope my work as the Casey Trees Community Tree Planting Manager and Arborist encourages women to join the field and supports those that are already doing great things.”

Jess Sanders, Director of Technical Services and Research, is also a certified arborist – in addition to having her Ph.D. in urban and community forestry. “My dedication to the field is what drove me to become a certified arborist,” Jess says, adding that “having the holistic background of research from my academic pursuits and as well as the practical knowledge from my certification has helped me tremendously.”

Maisie Hughes, Director of Design & Advocacy has “loved trees since I was a child. I would spend hours climbing trees or sitting under them trying to sketch them.” How did she land here? Maisie notes, “When I was in graduate school for landscape architecture, I was elated to find Casey Trees. I wanted be an arborist from the time I discovered arboriculture. It wasn’t a decision, it was a calling.”

We’re not only happy to highlight the crucial work our arborists are doing, but also excited to recognize and learn about the historical contributions of women in the field. Happy Women’s History Month!

Photo courtesy of the Forest Historical Society of a Ranger’s Clerk reading a precipitation gauge.

Opening Day

Even the cooler weather couldn’t stop us as we began the spring planting season at American University two weeks ago. For the second year, the workshop was split into concurrent classes, one for Team Leader candidates and one for homeowners. This allowed us to divide and conquer as we planted 31 trees at the center of campus along Nebraska Avenue.

The morning team leader session was designed for people who want to be Citizen Forester Team Leaders, and they spent the morning with games, a skit, and trivia to test their tree planting skills. All so they’re equipped to lead future Community Tree Planting events in their red vests. The morning residential planting session equipped any Tom, Dick, or Harry to plant and maintain trees in their yard.

It was a great start to the season, and we continued to plant at Dumbarton Oaks Park this past Saturday. Our volunteers braved the chilly temps once again to help continue to restore, reforest, and perform erosion control by planting 101 trees around the stream and hillside that was previously covered with invasive plants. This is the third round of reforestation that Casey Trees has completed in the Upper Stream Valley location: the first on was in April 2016, the second in November 2016.

The Tree Planting Workshop and the Dumbarton Oaks Community Tree Planting were a terrific way to open the 2017 planting season. We can’t wait to see more volunteers throughout the spring to help us reach our 40 percent canopy goal by 2032.

Meet Our New Communications Specialist: Jona Elwell

Warmer weather was not the only exciting thing happening at Casey Trees this February, we’re happy to announce our new Communications Specialist, Jona Elwell.

In addition to taking over the Leaflet, Jona will also work on other digital content including our social media platforms, Tree Report Card, media outreach, and more.

Casey Trees (CT): Who is Jona Elwell?

Jona Elwell (JE): A New Jersey transplant, most days you can find me riding my bicycle, trying out a new brewery or distillery, or exploring D.C.

CT: What led you to Casey Trees?

JE: I am a firm believer that small adjustments in your daily life – commuting by bike, exposure to green spaces – can have a much larger impact than you think. So Casey Trees’ mission to restore, enhance and protect the tree canopy of D.C. really resonates to me. Plus, the first house I lived in D.C. participated in the RiverSmart Homes program, so clearly I am a fan of our mission.

CT: We have to ask – what’s your favorite Tree?

JE: As a kid I spent my summers in Maine, and our family friends have a massive catalpa tree in their yard that I would climb and play around with my cousins. It just so happens that there is a (smaller) catalpa tree outside my bedroom window in D.C., and whenever I look at it I smile (cheesy – I know).

CT: What’s your favorite D.C. weekend spot?

JE: I cannot say enough about the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail, especially now that it is extended. Over 60 miles of trails in the District and Maryland are now connected! So that means I can combine all my hobbies by biking from Denizens Brewing Co. in Silver Spring all the way to Bluejacket in the Navy Yard.

CT: If you had to bring one album with you on a desert island, what would it be?

JE: Rumours by Fleetwood Mac, hands down.

CT: What are you looking forward to most here?

JE: Using digital spaces and the power of social media to interact with volunteers and supporters AND getting the word out about Casey Trees and the importance of a healthy urban tree canopy.

Casey Trees Staff Announcement

Just like the seasons change — so do the people who work to further Casey Trees’ mission.

After ten years as Casey Trees’ Director of Education, Sue Erhardt has moved on to a new position as Executive Director at the Allegheny Mountain Institute in Staunton, VA. We thank Sue for her dedicated service and wish her the very best in her new role.

Filling in behind Sue, we are excited to announce that Laura Bassett, previously our Community Education Coordinator, has been promoted to Acting Director of Education. Laura brings a wealth of experience from both the public and private sector, as well as organizational accomplishments such as the creation of Casey Trees’ new Volunteer Pruning Corps which was launched this past December in partnership with the Urban Forestry Administration.

We are equally delighted to announce that Italia Peretti has been promoted to Acting Director of Communications and Development. As Casey Tree’s Communications and Marketing Associate for just under two years, Italia has been instrumental in organizing and executing Casey Trees’ marketing and events efforts, including the Canopy Awards and Appreciation Events.

Please mark your calendars to speak to Laura, Italia, and all the rest of our great staff in person at our Fourth Annual Canopy Awards coming up on Thursday, April 27!  In the meantime, Laura and Italia are here to answer your education, volunteer, or development and communications questions at:

Do Try This At Home

Our Spring Tree Planting season is almost here — and due to these higher temperatures it already feels like spring in the District.

Warmer weather tends to bring out the weekend- warrior in all of us… So if you a do-it-yourself-er, we have the perfect DIY project for you — planting a tree with our Tree Rebate program!

Purchase and plant a tree on private property in the District and you could get up to a $100 back.  Before you plant, check out our instructional videos or step-by-step instructions for a refresher on how to select and properly plant a tree.

Adding to D.C.’s canopy — and to the value of your home — couldn’t be simpler and at a very low cost to you! There is no limit to the number of trees you can plant through the program!

Get to planting!

Funding for the Tree Rebate program is provided by the District Department of the Environment.