by M. Janet Bornancin, President/CEO

What an exciting year for the TREE Fund! 2014 was unlike any during my tenure.  We reinforced the rebranding of our organization to better reflect the impact of our grantees and volunteers. We welcomed new researchers, educators, volunteers, sponsors and donors.  We are grateful to every one of you for choosing the TREE Fund for your gifts of time, expertise and dollars. Regardless of how and what you gave in 2014, your support advanced our commitment to cultivate innovation.  Together we opened the door to scientific discovery and shared the results with our industry, the public and the next generation of tree stewards.

With guidance from an engaged Board of Trustees we took a bold step into the future, partnering with the International Society of Arboriculture in a wide-reaching survey of the tree care community to identify current “hot button” issues and challenges. The results will inform our Board’s decision making and ensure that your support dollars are put to the best possible use.

Preliminary survey results indicate that the research priorities that have guided our grant-making in the past remain relevant today. New knowledge about root and soil biology, plant health care, planting and establishment of nursery stock, risk assessment, worker safety and urban forestry is as much in demand as ever. New technology allows tree scientists to exact more precise results from their investigations, inspiring plenty of “what if?” and “why not?” conversations which lead to innovative research proposals. It’s an exciting time for research, if you can find the funding.

In 2014 the TREE Fund awarded a record $302K for tree research, scholarships, public education about EAB and arboriculture education for school children, including several creative programs that empower youngsters to learn about trees and share their newfound knowledge and enthusiasm with their peers.  We’re honored to partner with the Canadian TREE Fund and the Ohio and Penn-Del Chapters of ISA to offer research and education opportunities specific to their interests, and I invite your organization to consider enlisting our experts to administer your scholarship, education or research program.

A full listing of our Spring Cycle awards for research and education was included in our Fall 2014 Report. Our most recent (Fall Cycle) awards are in the final stages of approval. Stay tuned, and visit our Grant Archives for summaries of our funded projects.

A successful summer special events season (thanks, Wisconsin!) coupled with prudent investing has brought us tantalizingly close (94%!) to reaching our $3 million goal for the TREE Fund Endowment.  With your help we can reach and exceed that goal in 2015.

We’ve also facilitated more and better opportunities for you to learn about the activities of the TREE Fund through social media, targeted monthly e-mails, this newsletter — the TREE Fund Report — and our annual report.  Visit our website, read our blog, subscribe to the Report and follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn to keep up with our latest news, and share it with your network to help us grow our support base.  In this issue alone you’ll find an introduction to our new Trustees and award recipients, a preview of the 2015 Tour, a tribute to our top fundraisers for 2014 and an invitation to join our Heritage Oak Society that could only have been written by an arborist.

With your help we’ve had a banner year, and with your help we will have another one in 2015. I thank you for all you do for the TREE Fund, for your communities and for urban trees every day. It is our privilege to count you among the friends of the TREE Fund.  I look forward to your participation and support in 2015.