November 2022

"With the news headlines constantly popping up these days about climate change, deforestation, wildfires, and new exotic pests and disease on the rise, we need to do all that we can to protect our trees""

--Patrick Franklin, F.A. Bartlett Tree Experts

Kathleen Wolf

Trees and science: Part 1 of 3

By Kathleen Wolf, Ph.D., TREE Fund Trustee

1. What is Useful Science?

There are many facets of science and research that support effective arboriculture and urban forestry. If we step back and take in the full range of knowledge assets before us, it can be both inspiring, and well, a little overwhelming. Research can inform the practical details of professional work and best practices. It can also shape how we engage with local leaders, the public and clients.

I have had the privilege to speak at multiple ISA chapter conferences and urban forestry meetings around the U.S., and the world. I typically am part of a speaker agenda that includes other TREE Fund supported scientists. Their research often focuses on the "how" of city trees, meaning ongoing knowledge-seeking about topics that help trees to thrive – including planting, pruning, soils, and water. 

Being a social scientist, my contribution is to speak about the "why" of trees. I rarely limit talks exclusively to my studies. Rather, I tap the interesting (and rigorous) array of studies being done by a global community of science. The topics include public perceptions and preferences for trees, social equity in distribution of city trees, policy and governance of urban forests, and human health response.

OK, I’ll be frank. At times, the knowledge that I share about more abstract, conceptual dynamics of society are viewed as "soft science" or less necessary than tree planting and management practices. Yet the "why" topics of tree research are the bridges to public attention and meaning. As an analogy, think about cancer research. The general public embraces the importance of research about cancer cures, and will support funding with only the most general understanding of the science. Meanwhile, reading medical journals about cancer science will make your head spin. Yet the public doesn’t have to fully understand the ‘how’ to appreciate the "why."

Granting organizations are incredibly important in sponsoring science that contributes to fundamental understandings of how the world works. As with any granting entity, mission and goals help to clarify funding focus. The TREE Fund seeks to support and share the science of trees and how they contribute to individual lives, the communities people live in, and economy. While the TREE Fund can and will continue to stay true to tree science, it can tap the studies of "why" trees are important to build broader public support and engage donors.

Look for Part 2: Bridging "Why?" and 'How?" in the December edition of the TREE Press.

Let's keep the momentum going!

By Russell K. King, president & CEO

The world has changed since I arrived at the TREE Fund just a bit more than three years ago. The first years of a new president/CEO would be transition enough for any nonprofit to adapt to, but life decided to test us and added a global pandemic—with the death of millions, economic collapse, the loss of travel and in-person meetings, the temporary loss of the Tour des Trees, a market downturn that has affected our endowments, and widespread suppression of charitable giving. This was followed by the tragic death of our leader and friend, Will Nutter. At the same time, we transformed the TREE Fund to a virtual office, saving tens of thousands of dollars a year. 

The TREE Fund family--trustees, volunteers, partners, donors, and staff--have responded admirably:

  • surviving the pandemic and renewing our growth;
  • creating a new strategic plan that focuses on our sustainability and charts a new course to an expanded donor base; and
  • gaining a clearer picture of our governance structure. 

We’ve also made significant progress:

  • creation and launching of a new scholarship;
  • creation and launching of a new grant;
  • dramaticaly cutting our operating budget;
  • making positive changes in our bookkeeping and financial reporting;
  • embracing existing relationships while cultivating for new ones;
  • expansion of our webinar service, which is earning us much good will;
  • expansion of our use of social media platforms, which has brought us new supporters;
  • making necessary changes to the staff, including the addition of two outstanding new employees;
  • and more. 

I'm ever the optimist, but there are seeds of excitement, enthusiasm, and renewed commitment sprouting throughout the TREE Fund family. Let's nurture them and keep them growing. Just as we do when we plant a tree, let's see what strength and beauty arises.

Your help is needed. While the direct costs of our grants and scholarships are covered through solid investment of endowment funds, the indirect costs are an annual challenge. Today, I'm asking you to give to the TREE Fund Annual Appeal. Use the reply card you received in the mail, donate through our website, or simply send your gift to the TREE Fund at 1755 Park St. #200, Naperville, IL 60563.

Other ways to support the TREE Fund.

  1. This collection of autumn poetry--published just this month!-- by TREE Fund President and CEO Russell King is available on Amazon. Sales support the TREE Fund.  
  2. Amazon donates 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to the charitable organization of your choice—the TREE Fund, of course! Support the TREE Fund by starting your shopping at
  3. When you make payments through PayPal, you can choose to donate to the TREE Fund. PayPal does not charge a fee for the service, but does provide donation and donor reports, issue receipts, and make grants to the TREE Fund every month. If you have a PayPal account, you can go here to make the TREE Fund your charity of choice.
  4. Gifts for yourself and others, proudly displaying the TREE Fund logo, can be found on Zazzle.

The New Will Nutter Memorial Scholarship opens January 15

The purpose of this one-year, $5,000 scholarship is to support the utility forestry and arboriculture industry by helping college students interested in those fields achieve high academic goals without accumulating burdensome debt. Up to $500 of the scholarship can be used for books and supplies. 

Applications accepted January 15 to March 15, 2023.

Applicants must be high school seniors entering college or community college, or returning college students seeking a first bachelor’s degree or associate’s degree while attending an accredited US college or university. All applicants must have a genuine interest in the utility forestry or arboriculture industry, which they will express in an application letter.



  1. Genuine interest in pursuing a career in the utility forestry/arboriculture industry.
  2. Entering or returning student at an accredited undergraduate institution in the United States
  3. Minimum 3.0 GPA

Lead Donors

We are deeply grateful to the following people and organizations who contributed $2,500 or more to the TREE Fund in October 2022:

Arborjet, Inc.

Canadian TREE Fund

Urban Forest Nursery, Inc.

See the full list of lead donors who make our vital tree research and education work possible on our website.

TREE Fund essentials

If you've ever wanted to learn more about the TREE Fund, you'll want to visit our website. It's a treasure chest of good information. Here are links to key documents:

Free Webinars

The TREE Fund is proud to partner with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System to bring you free education offerings. We are now able to accommodate up to 3,000 participants! 

Risk governance and equity in urban forest management

Tuesday, December 6 @ Noon (CST)

Jason Gordon, PhD, Tawana Mattox, PhD, and Alexis Martin, graduate student

Register here.

The TREE Fund’s 1-hour webinars are free and offer 1.0 CEU credit for live broadcasts from the International Society of Arboriculture and the Society of American Foresters. Registration information becomes available on our website approximately one month before each webinar date. 

Missed a webinar? Watch it anytime on our website.

CEU Credit for Recorded Webinar

TREE Fund now offers ISA CEU credits for one recorded webinar: "Loading of a Tie-in Point While Climbing." If you missed this webinar, you can now watch the recording and earn ISA CEU credits by completing a 20 question quiz with 80% accuracy. Learn more on our website.

TREE Fund Achieves

Highest Rating

For the third consecutive year, the TREE Fund has reached Guidestar/Candid's highest level of achievement for nonprofit transparency--the platinum award. GuideStar is the world's largest and most authoritative source of information on nonprofit organizations. Major donors tend to look to GuideStar/Candid as the “seal of approval” before making donations.

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TREE Fund is a 501(C)3 nonprofit with a mission to explore and share the science of trees contributing to the lives of people, communities, economies, and the environment, and of the planning, planting, and sustainability of urban and community trees.