The Vermont Urban and Community Forestry Program (VT UCF) recently bestowed tree steward awards on several Vermonters, including two from the Rutland area, for their commitment to protecting and preserving their communities’ forests and trees.
Tom Estill, Rutland, a longtime science teacher and outdoorsman, was recognized with the Leader award, presented annually to an individual who demonstrates strong leadership in an urban or community forestry project.
Estill was honored for his long-term efforts to reintroduce blight-resistant American chestnut trees in Vermont. He has worked with the Vermont-New Hampshire chapter of the American Chestnut Foundation to obtain seedlings and with local students for planting at Pine Hill Park, Mount St. Joseph High School and the Alan Street campus, all in Rutland.
The Vermont Arbor Day Award is given to an individual who has gone above and beyond to make a difference in a community’s urban and community forest. This year’s recipient was Dave Schneider, a Fair Haven resident. As the municipal forester and arborist for the City of Rutland for 20 years, he collaborated with the Rutland Blooms citizen group to plant trees along the city’s gateways and treated more than 100 ash trees within the city’s right-of-ways to protect them from the emerald ash borer, an invasive forest pest.
Schneider also worked with Stafford Technical Center students to build and maintain the Rutland City Tree Nursery, which has supplied 900 trees for city plantings. Schneider has been a Vermont Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council member since 2001.
In addition, the City of Rutland received the Tree City USA award for the 29th year. The National Arbor Day Foundation presents this award annually to communities that actively manage and steward their public tree resources. Rutland was one of only nine Vermont communities to be recognized this year. The other eight were: Burlington, South Burlington, Essex Junction, Hartford, Middlebury, Montpelier, Shelburne and Winooski.
VT UCF is a partnership between UVM Extension and the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation. For more information visit vtcommunityforestry.org.