2016 - Celebrating our Parks

Honoring the people and partners working to promote and protect the tree canopy.

Celebrating our Parks

a chalkboard that says I Love Trees Because, and people have written all over it


Award for Design

District Department of Transportation


The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) does far more than just grant parking permits and keep the new D.C. Streetcar running smoothly, they also design programs which enhance and protect green spaces all around the city.

Three years ago they adopted the Sustainable DC Plan which aims to make the District the greenest city in the country in part by adopting the goal of a 40% tree canopy for the city by 2032. The Urban Forestry Administration (UFA), which plants and maintains street trees, is also a part of DDOT.

A major task of the Green Infrastructure program at DDOT has been “Greening DC Streets” by using permeable pavement, bio-retention systems and planting native trees and grasses within pedestrian walkways, traffic triangles and alleyways.

While at Casey Trees, Meredith Upchurch, now the head of the Low Impact Development and Green Infrastructure program developed the guidelines for “Tree Space Design: Growing the Tree Out of the Box” which ensures that street trees are planted with proper root space and soil depth.

DDOT’s streetscape designs are multifunctional in that they reduce storm water runoff, create green space, and influence other designers in the city to implement these methods.

Award for Education

Ryoko Yamamoto

Ryoko smiling

When Ryoko Yamamoto immigrated from Tsuchiura, Japan to Queens, New York 11 years ago, she realized how much she missed having green spaces surrounding her. After residing in New York for one a year she and her family moved down here to D.C. which Ryoko described as, “the best decision we could have made.”

Shortly after settling into D.C. Yamamoto began studying horticulture and landscape design, which then led her to Casey Trees where she took Tree I.D. classes, Trees 101, and eventually became a Citizen Forester.

Yamamoto currently works as the School Garden Coordinator  at Capital City Public Charter School where she manages the gardens, teaches lessons, keeps healthy beehives and co-operates the School Garden Market. When the school moved locations to Kansas Avenue where there was a large field and courtyard, the first thing Yamamoto wanted to accomplish was planting trees in the space.

Even after helping to coordinate five School Tree Plantings at Capital City PCS for a total of 30 trees, Yamamoto still feels there is more to be done in and around the campus, such as removing invasive plant species and planting more native trees in Fort Slocum Park located behind the school.

Ryoko continues to inspire her students through removing invasive plant species, planting more native trees in Fort Slocum Park located behind the school and other engaging outdoor activities. She believes that, “these kinds of experiences form a solid foundation of trust in surroundings. Especially in an urban city like D.C., [she] believes cultivating the sense of wonder maintains our goodness at the very core.”

Award for Leadership

Councilmember Mary C. Cheh

Councilmember in session

Ward 3 Councilmember, Mary Cheh, has been a strong voice for trees and the environment in her 10 years on the DC Council.

Her creation of the Clean and Affordable Energy Act pushes for more green roofs in the city and storm water control among many other environmental advancements, and her efforts don’t end there.

She, alongside Councilmember Charles Allen, also introduced the Tree Canopy Protection Amendment Act of 2015 which, if adopted, dramatically increases tree protections throughout the District and ensures that more trees are planted throughout the city.

Cheh also sits on The Committee on Transportation and the Environment, which maintains public spaces, public parks and recreation areas.

Award for Partnership

The Crispus Attucks Development Corporation

Crispus Attucks Park

After being covered by asphalt, an abandoned building and hundreds of old phone cables, local residents transformed a gray space into what we know as the beautiful Crispus Attucks Park today.

In order to make sure this park stayed safe from development The Crispus Attucks Development Corporation (CADC) began to seek out a conservation easement, however they faced a lack of interest from organizations until they found Casey Trees.

Through our partnership, CADC has been able to ensure the park remains an inviting green space for community use. A conservation easement enshrines this purpose for perpetuity.

President of the CADC Board, Will Gomaa describes the park as, “the result of the efforts of those who have lived in the neighborhood.”

The whole community has benefitted from the space, not only as a way to get closer with nature but also to get closer with each other. In the winter, CADC volunteers string lights on trees. The holiday light stringing brings brightness to the park in the middle of winter as well as the community — both wouldn’t be possible without the trees on which to string the lights!

You can read the full story of Crispus Attucks Park here.

Award for Volunteer Service

Gregg Serenbetz

Gregg in a Red Vest

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 D.C.

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!”