January 2023

Kathleen Wolf

Trees and science: Part 3 of 3

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

3: Trees and Health- A Bridging Opportunity

About a decade ago my research program pivoted to a focus on human health and wellness. In just this short time the knowledge base about these topics has expanded to 1,000s of peer reviewed articles, published by investigators all around the world. My scholarship in nature (including trees) and human health has led to fascinating discussions and collaborations with medical providers, public health officials, community leaders, public school officials, and philanthropic organizations.

I often serve as a portal to the science of nature and health, offering summaries of health benefits that align with specific interests of the audience. I observe that nature and health messaging is particularly effective in engaging people who are outside of green industries and may not have thought much about the role of trees in their communities. I recount the evidence of tree and forest experiences and responses of reduced stress and depression, improved mental health, healthier baby birth weight, better child development and less crime. I observe people being deeply thoughtful and often sharing emotion-filled stories of experiences that resonate with the evidence.

Across my career as a social scientist I have fielded some interesting questions and statements about research design concerning social and health dimensions of urban forestry. These range from curiosity about methods beyond surveys to outright dismissal of the very notion that one can discern patterns in human response to outdoor places. Fundamental to my work is the question, ‘what is science?’ which I routinely ask of graduate students. Surprisingly, the response is often topical; science is about trees, or water, or fire, or wildlife etc. I then proceed to introduce my belief that science is a systematic process, driven by inquiry, to build knowledge.

Understanding people and how they respond to nature, is not only possible, but is arguably essential to address fundamental societal issues.

Some scientists dedicate their careers and passions to basic science, building understanding about underlying processes and causal pathways. The science of ‘how’ and ‘why’ concerning arboriculture and urban forestry tends to be more applied, moving to near-term practical translations for best practices. Given the complexity of urban settings and human communities there is value in recognizing how integrating social, health and biophysical sciences can play a role in supporting city trees. In some situations broader appeals build support, in other situations specific guidance addresses tree care and needs. While TREE Fund will sustain its funding mission and focus on tree research, other evidence-based messaging can bring greater attention to trees, including the importance of financial support.

Thank you, Dr. Wolf, for your insightful information.

TREE Fund Board Opens Search for President/CEO and Operations/Governance Assistant Positions 

Following the resignation of President/CEO Russell King in December 2022, and in anticipation of the retirement of longtime Grants and Operations Manager Barbara Duke in late February 2023, TREE Fund’s Board of Trustees have convened a Transition Committee to oversee the identification and hiring of two new employees to continue the important work done by Mr. King and Ms. Duke in support of TREE Fund’s organizational mission, goals and objectives. The two open positions for which the Board seeks candidates are: 

President/ CEO

Operations and Governance Assistant

To see the full press release, job descriptions and application information for these positions, please visit the TREE Fund website.

Grant and Scholarship Cycle for Spring 2023 Now Open

TREE Fund's Grant and Scholarship Cycle for the Spring of 2023 is now open. Letters of Inquiry must be received by March 1 and applications submitted by March 15. See details regarding requirements for each grant and scholarship on their individual pages.

Research Grant Information

Education Grant Information

Scholarship Information

Fall 2022 Grant Recipients

We are pleased to announce the following awardees of TREE Fund grants from the Fall 2022 application cycle.

  • John Z. Duling Grant Program
  • Urban Ecosystem Regeneration by Increasing Stand and Genetic Diversity at Tarlteton State University, lead by Dr. Darrel Murray.
  • Jack Kimmel International Grant Program
  • A Pumping-test Analogue for Characterizing Root-zone and Plant Integrated Hydraulic Systems Based on Above-ground Measurements at Flinders University in Australia, lead by Dr. Huade Guan.
  • Bob Skiera Memorial Fund Building Bridges Initiative Grant Program
  • Connecting and Creating Municipal Forestry Bridges to Build Urban Forest Resources at CN Utility Consulting, lead by Dr. Richard Hauer

Thank you to our donors!

We may now be kicking off 2023, but we wanted to take a moment to thank all of our donors from 2022, especially those that donated to our end-of-year annual appeal campaign.

Thanks to you, our annual appeal campaign raised $39,394 for TREE Fund!

Tour des Trees Now Registration Open!

Registration for the Tour des Trees bike ride is now open!

Join TREE Fund and your fellow tree lovers at this year's ride which will start in Reno, NV, ride past Lake Tahoe, and into northern California's redwood country. Ride dates are September 26 to October 2 and our group will ride over 380 miles over the course of five days.

We are looking forward to a beautiful ride this year, filled with trees and great camraderie. We hope you'll choose to join us. For more information and to register, visit www.treefund.org/tourdestrees.

TREE Fund Ramblings: Mentions and thanks TREE Fund has recently received.

We recently received a very nice email from Dr. Richard Hauer after the confirmation of his receiving of the Bob Skiera Memorial Fun Building Bridges Initiative Grant this past winter. We would like to share this section to let you know the impact that your support makes possible.

“I forgot to mention of all the grants I have been awarded over the years, this most recent one is very dear to me. As an undergraduate I got to know Bob Skiera whose ideas and sharing his knowledge with me was instrumental to an early career student. I also was on the planning committee that started the fund raising to endow this grant. Thus, to build a grant that a committee liked and the great news (of receiving this award) is special. Thanks again for the wonderful news.”  

- Rich Hauer

Lead Donors

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

Steven Geist

Green Manufacturing

Lewis Tree Service

William and Anne Sherrill

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

Free Webinars

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! 

Tuesday, March 7. Noon CST.

Presenter: Dr. Andy Kaufman, University of Hawaii.

Building Urban Tree Resiliency by Mitigating Below Ground Infrastructure Techniques.

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 and information will become available on our website approximately two weeks 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, 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.

Visit our Website
TREE Fund Crown Partners! 
Facebook  Twitter  Instagram  Linkedin  
1755 Park St. Suite #200, Naperville, IL 60563
(630) 369-8300
Donate now

TREE Fund is a 501(c)3 nonprofit whose mission is to support scientific discovery and dissemination of new knowledge in the fields of arboriculture and urban forestry.