Porter County Master Gardener Linda Mapes, Valparaiso, received the "2014 Outstanding Tree Steward of the Year" award at the 24th Annual Indiana Urban Forest Council (IUFC) fall conference in Indianapolis. IUFC’s mission is to expand and improve Indiana’s urban forests.
Mapes took the Indiana Tree Steward class in Valparaiso in Sept. 2013 and immediately took advantage of volunteer opportunities with the City of Valparaiso’s Shade Brigade, being one of four Tree Stewards in her class to take part in neighborhood tree planting, according to Jim Beversdorf, Porter County Master Gardener Association President.
The neighborhood was so appreciative,” Mapes stated. “They made me feel like I contributed much more than I did.”
As a retired teacher, Mapes continues her passion for teaching and was instrumental in developing five Arbor Day 2014 events with IUFC and the Isaac Walton League at Central, Jackson, Brummitt, Liberty Elementary Schools, and Discovery Charter Schools. The Isaac Walton League chapter sponsors environmental nights where approximately 15 different organizations share crafts, information, and activities. Mapes helped children participate in learning about “Products from Trees,” used several "tree cookies" to explain the age, uses, and diseases visible in the samples, did leaf rubbing and leaf ID activities. The children also received a bookmark, “Why We Need Trees.”
In addition, Mapes served as a judge for the Northern Region Arbor Day Poster Contest sponsored by IUFC.
“Linda has done much for the community and children in Valparaiso, all within her first year of becoming a Tree Steward,” stated Beversdorf.
The Indiana Tree Steward Program was developed in 1995 by Pam Louks, Department of Natural Resourses (DNR) Forestry division and consists of a 18-hour training course which includes sessions on tree growth and identification; how to select, plant, and maintain trees; pruning techniques; assessing risk; diagnosing pest and disease; managing urban woodlots, and examining the benefits of the urban forest, according to Indiana’s DNR website. Curriculum can be viewed at http://www.in.gov/dnr/forestry/2854.htm.
“This is a class that is for any and everyone,” said Carrie Tauscher, Indiana DNR Urban Forester and Volunteer Coordinator. “You don’t have to be a master gardener or an arborist, just have an interest in learning and trees. The best thing is that everyone will learn something they didn’t know and hopefully will know what to do with that knowledge when the class is over.”