April 26, 2021 /
Jona Elwell

CanopyFest: Honoree Hints

Happy Arbor Week! This celebrated week ends with the best day of the year around here – Arbor Day. In the past we’ve hedl a giant party known as the Canopy Awards, as our unique way of honoring the people and partners working to protect and promote DC’s tree canopy. This year since we still can’t meet together and host our usual bash to celebrate our tree heroes, we’re delivering the festivities right to your door with #ArborDayDelivered, a meal deal and merch pack (did you order yours yet?).

But even in a pandemic the work to restore, enhance, and protect DC’s trees has continued, so as part of our Arbor Day Delivered package, you’ll get a sneak peek at the winners of our five Canopy Awards.

Award for Partnership: A quick reminder that this award recognizes a neighborhood, community group, funder or other group that has worked with us to improve the tree canopy in a specific location in the DC metro area. Our canopy needs a patchwork of partners so previous winners run the gamut from single citizens, to bands of community members, and even citywide agencies: include Trees for Georgetown, Carol Herwig, The Crispus Attucks Development Corporation, Douglas Solomon and Shake Shack Union Station, the DC Department of Parks and Recreation and DC Department of Housing and Community Development. The winner this year harkens back to our Roots to Rivers of Canopy Awards past – while we have seemingly different missions, their work with us beautifully showcases how coming together to tackle common goals can benefit every city resident. Any guesses? Make sure you get #ArborDayDelivered so you can be the first to know!

Award for Education: This Canopy Award goes to an active partner of our educational programming showing a dedication to developing opportunities for environmental education. While you might first think of only teachers, think again. Past winners include author and DC tree expert Melanie Choukas-Bradley, extension agent for the University of the District of Columbia Mary Farrah, Capital City Public Charter School Garden Coordinator Ryoko Yamamoto, Horace Mann Elementary Garden Coordinator Amy Jagodnik, DDOT Urban Forestry Division Arborists Steve McKindley-Ward and Joel Conlon, and Kendall Demonstration Elementary School teacher 

Heidi Burns. In their own sphere, each award winner has pushed for the importance and knowledge of power in protecting city trees. You may have not heard of any of the past winners, but we think you may have heard this year’s winner. His ability to spread information, share stories, and educate Washingtonians is somewhat unparalleled. Any thoughts? Confirm your suspicions or be surprised when you order #ArborDayDelivered and get a sneak peek of honoree winner’s videos!

Award for Volunteer Service: We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – volunteers are the backbone of Casey Trees. We’d be lost without them. Especially our volunteers that have been involved for season after season. We rely on their accumulated expertise and friendly spirits to help us train the next cohort of volunteers. Our Canopy Award for Volunteer Service recognizes an individual who has consistently supported our programs and goals through volunteerism for five or more years. Past winners include everyone from tree planting pros, pruning experts, inventory leads, and seasoned tree advocates like Christy Kwan, Andrea Moreland, Gregg Serenbetz, Kerrin and Greg Nishimura, Kathy Robertson and Delores Bushong. This year’s winner usually *rolls* up to plantings with a big ole grin on his face. He doesn’t discriminate when it comes to Casey Trees volunteer programs either – he’s a Team Leader for both Community Tree Plantings and Inventories! Think you know him? Be the first to find out when you settle in with your delicious #ArborDayDelivered meal deal and are the first with access to our honoree videos!

Award for Leadership: Planting and caring for trees is important but one of the best ways to protect them is through getting the word out and policy changes. The Canopy Award for Leadership takes this into account and awards the efforts of an individual to raise awareness in the community about the importance of trees through public action, community activism or policymaking. Previous winners include some political heavy hitters including former mayor Anthony A. Williams, Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, Councilmember Mary C. Cheh, Earl Eutsler and DDOT’s Urban Forestry Division, Tommy Wells and District Department of Energy and the Environment as well as Councilmember Vincent C. Gray. This year, however, the award is going to a firmly homegrown group. Providing a nationally recognized framework for community involvement, this year’s winner’s resolute focus on their community and its needs has been nationally recognized even if their project is not yet finished. Recognize this literally and figuratively groundbreaking project? See what else they have to say when you get #ArborDayDelivered and are the first to view our 2021 honorees! 

Award for Sustainability: Last but definitely not least is the Award for Sustainability which is our opportunity to showcase a particular project that goes above and beyond. This award highlights a development, project, installation, design, project or product/technology that significantly improves DC’s tree canopy. Past winners and projects have varied greatly from Oehme van Sweden’s design of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, the District Department of Transportation’s streetscape designs, the DC Office of Planning’s focus on the public parking zone, 

And the Nature Conservancy’s work with Mt. Olivet Cemetery and their stormwater runoff mitigation. This year’s winner highlights how a few choice design decisions can make a single building exemplify a mission. Think you know who practices what they preach? Learn about their other creative canopy contributions while watching our Canopy Award honorees when you get #ArborDayDelivered this Friday!