A Retrospective on All the Canopy Award for Volunteer Service Honorees
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. We appreciate and depend on our volunteers so much that we honor one a year with a coveted Canopy Award. Our Canopy Award for Volunteer Service recognizes an individual who has been a consistent and exemplary support for our programs and goals through volunteerism. In honor of National Volunteer Week this week, we’re sharing the past winners which include everyone from tree planting pros, pruning experts, inventory leads, and seasoned tree advocates.
Want to read about Mary Pat Rowan, the 2022 Canopy Honoree for Volunteer Service? Meet the 2022 Canopy Awards Honorees.
2021 Award for Volunteer Service: Jack Camino
Many of our trained volunteers find one program and stick to it. Jack Camino, however, is a literal Casey Trees jack of all trades. A friendly, hilarious, and active Team Leader, he has a knack for creating harmony, humor, and connection within a group – whether he is leading tree planting, inventories, or classes.
2019 Award for Volunteer Service: Delores Bushong
A real-life Lorax, Casey Trees volunteer Delores Bushong has committed herself to speak for the trees. While she is a tree planting team leader and Pruning Corps member, she truly shines as a frequent face at Council hearings, testimonials, and meetings. Since becoming a Certified Tree Advocate in 2012, Delores has used her voice to protect and promote tree-focused legislation and developments.
2018 Award for Volunteer Service: Kathy Robertson
Name one of our program or volunteer events and chances are Kathy has been there. As a Lead Citizen Forester, Community Tree Planting Team Leader, Park Inventory Team Leader, Evergreen Member, Certified Tree Advocate, and Pruning Corps Member there are few activities at Casey Trees that Kathy has not been a part of.
While many of our volunteers tend to find their niche volunteer roles, Kathy has spread her love for urban forestry throughout Casey Trees. Planting trees and leading tree planting teams was simply not enough for her. Noticing the need to not only restore trees but also protect them, Kathy became a Certified Tree Advocate and developed the skills to speak up for trees and greenspaces to city officials and development project coordinators. The 2015 winner of the Scarlet Oak Award for the completion of the most events with us, Kathy’s dedication to all things D.C. trees has never wavered. Last year alone she attended over 30 events with us!
When asked about winning the award, Kathy remarked, “I was very surprised because I know I’ve been doing things for the past several years, but I never thought I would be one of the most involved. I like the work I do with Casey Trees so to be recognized for that is something unexpected and special.”
2017 Award for Volunteer Service: Kerrin and Greg Nishimura
From summer intern to Lead Citizen Forester, Kerrin has been volunteering with Casey Trees for the past 12 years and has planted an estimated 425 trees. As a Team Leader, Kerrin has led countless other volunteers in tree plantings and helped to train even more Citizen Foresters. Greg has participated in over 80 Casey Trees events and has been Lead Citizen Forester at two plantings since he first became involved 13 years ago.
The personal connections Kerrin has grown within the Casey Tree’s community is what makes the volunteering experience all the more wholesome. Kerrin and Greg met while both taking part in a Dutch Elm Disease inventory as interns, and now work together to make their city the greenest it can be for their family.
“The most rewarding part about the hours and years I’ve dedicated to Casey Trees is knowing that in 20 years I can bring my daughter back to all those places that her father and I have planted trees and she’ll be able to see the good work that we’ve done. She’ll be able to put her hands on a living symbol of our love for the environment and for the city itself,” Kerrin says.
2016 Award for Volunteer Service: Gregg Serenbetz
As a Casey Trees volunteer for nearly 15 years and Citizen Forester for a decade, Gregg Serenbetz is definitely a familiar face to Casey Trees and many communities throughout DC. Gregg began his volunteer service here at Casey Trees while still in graduate school by helping to survey street trees around Capitol Hill and Metro Center. Since then he has been active with tree plantings, pruning events, tree health studies, and environmental education fairs. Over the years he has donated his time at over 200 Casey Trees related events totaling over 700 hours donated. Gregg estimates he has lent a helping hand in planting around 200 trees!
As an employee at the Environmental Protection Agency in the Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds, Gregg is able to bring a unique type of service and perspective to the Casey Trees community which helps us in more ways than we can count! One of Gregg’s favorite quotes — also a Casey Trees favorite is, “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” Gregg told us this is what compels him to come back season after season — “the knowledge that [he] is making a direct and positive impact on the environment — in the present time but even more so for the distant future!”
*Gregg also is known for truly throwing himself into the work – often leaving planings being covered in dirt!
2015 Award for Volunteer Service: Andrea Moreland
Andrea first volunteered with Casey Trees in the fall of 2010 at Rock Creek Cemetery at St. Paul’s Rock Creek Parish in Northwest D.C., helping to plant trees at the historic burial ground that serves as the final resting place for some of D.C.’s most notable residents. She was immediately hooked.
Over the past five years, Andrea has become an integral part of the Casey Trees family — planting close to 200 trees across the District and serving as a Lead Citizen Forester, Community Tree Planting Team Leader, Citizen Pruner and member of the Street Team and Volunteer Engagement Steering Team. Andrea also supports tree planting efforts as a Casey Trees Member.
Chances are if Andrea is not planting, caring for or talking about trees, she is thinking about when she can. “Planting so many trees in and around my neighborhood has given me greater pride and responsibility for my community. DC is such a nice place to live, in large part because of the trees and parks, and we can all help it stay that way.”
2014 Award for Volunteer Service: Christy Kwan
While Christy Kwan did not plant her first tree until graduate school, she has always lived a tree-filled life. A native of Los Angeles, Christy’s childhood was full of adventures at the Huntington Botanical Gardens and lazy days in her backyard under apricot, fig, and persimmon trees. Christy’s interest and appreciation for trees grew when her graduate studies in Philadelphia pushed her to explore urban agriculture. After relocating to DC, she became involved with Casey Trees and an interest in trees quickly became a passion.
Dozens of classes and workshops later, Christy became a team leader at our community volunteer events — frequently making multiple bus transfers on early Saturday mornings to not miss out on visiting new neighborhoods, but more importantly, to plant trees alongside neighborhood residents. For Christy, Saturday mornings with Casey Trees is more than just increasing the tree canopy – it is an opportunity to engage with local residents, to learn about their experiences and to be a steward of the environment and of DC as the City of Trees.
Christy also jumped feet first into advocacy, becoming Casey Trees’ fourth Certified Tree Advocate. Through the program, Ms. Kwan met with councilmembers and their staff to urge for greater tree protections and funding, attends Advisory Neighborhood Commission meetings and contributes to the training of future advocates.
*due to the coronavirus pandemic we did not award Canopy Awards in 2020*