Viewpoint: Summer 2012

Return to Table of Contents – Summer 2012

By Janet Bornancin, TREE Fund President/CEO









As August approaches it may be tempting to see “business as usual” at the TREE Fund. Summer is our fundraising “high season”, and a lot of attention is focused on the STIHL Tour des Trees and the “Raise Your Hand for Research” Auction.

But behind the scenes it’s anything but business as usual here. We’ve been executing a steady evolution of the organization over the past few years, and we’re starting to reap the rewards.

Our current Board of Trustees is vibrant, diverse and well- prepared to manage risk and opportunity in equal measure. They are engaged in scrutinizing our processes and objectives to ensure that our mission remains relevant and our strategies are effective. They are truly champions of our cause. This year, they went the extra mile, pooling their resources to purchase a Bronze Sponsorship of the Tour.  Look for “TREE Fund Trustees” on the Tour jerseys in Oregon!

Our self-evaluation process also included an invitation to all of our constituents to participate in a market research survey. Your feedback is being carefully considered as we develop a marketing plan for the TREE Fund to complement our existing Strategic Plan.

We heard from you about what we do well and where we could perform better. We’re gratified to know that our role in the tree care industry is considered pivotal, providing innovative opportunities for individuals, companies and partner organizations to contribute to and benefit from better tree care practices. We’ll continue to “cultivate innovation” in the tree care industry, and we’re working to ensure that innovation, where appropriate, begins at home.

We rely heavily on our volunteers to help us accomplish great things with a small staff and limited resources. Recently we welcomed Dr. Brian Sayers to our Board of Trustees, and several new TREE Fund Liaisons have signed on to help us work effectively with the regional Chapters of ISA. The Chapters and their Liaisons are critical to our process of identifying research priorities and communicating with our constituents. They also are the mainstay of our special events, recruiting and supporting Tour riders, donating extraordinary auction packages (like a 10-day cruise for two to ANYWHERE Holland America sails!) and hosting fundraisers for the TREE Fund on their home turf.

Research and education, of course, is the point of all the fundraising. We’re proud to support arboriculture education for youngsters in Michigan and Ohio this year, as well as higher education for three deserving scholarship winners. Our Hyland R. Johns research grant award addresses the relative merits of soil amendment options; additional research awards will follow later this year. We’re also gratified that the USDA-APHIS recognized the importance of researcher Daniel Herms’ work with $1.5 million to continue his investigation of EAB-resistant ash trees, begun in 2004 with support from a Hyland R. Johns grant.

Even as we’re packing for Portland we’re looking ahead. I hope that you’ll make it a point to support our Oregon events. Cycle with the Ride for Research on August 11, cheer the finish of the Tour (and celebrate its 20th Anniversary) during the ITCC or attend our best-ever auction on Monday, August 13.  But keep an eye on the bigger picture, too. We’re cultivating innovative ways to benefit the tree care industry, and we’d like you to help us grow. Visit to learn what’s new and to find ways to get involved. Welcome!