GEORGIA TREE COUNCIL STARS 2021
It's the second year for our list of Georgia Tree Council STARs! We’re shining the spotlight on up and coming leadership in Georgia - individuals under the age of 40 -- who’ve demonstrated “Service, Teamwork, Attitude, and Results” in their work for trees and community trees. Below are this year's five Georgia Tree Council STARs. Read about the good work each is doing, and be inspired. To watch an 8-minute video interview with three of our STARs, click here.
Alex displays the qualities of Service, Teamwork, Attitude, and Results daily in his work as a Community Forester for Georgia Forestry Commission, as a member of the Board of Directors for the Georgia Tree Council and the Georgia Arborist Association, and as a leader on green infrastructure resiliency efforts on Georgia’s coast.
Alex always goes above and beyond, making the effort to become ISA TRAQ qualified and a certified UAV pilot, and always working to better serve the communities he works with and his partners throughout Georgia. He has also taken direct charge of many community tree plantings, including a large “Making the Shade” project in Ludowici, as well as supporting many other tree planting initiatives such as Georgia ReLeaf.
Alex is now taking on a new challenge after moving to Georgia Forestry Commission’s much more populated Northwest region of the state, where he continues to show the same exemplary attitude of service and positivity. If you meet Alex once, you have a new friend, and the Georgia Forestry Commission is honored to have him as an up and coming part of their team and “star” of the community forestry profession in Georgia.
Trees Columbus initiated a Parks Project this year in partnership with the Columbus Consolidated Government Parks and Recreation Dept. Columbus parks are experiencing severe tree canopy decline, leading to loss of canopy and creating tree hazards in vital public areas. The first step in the Parks Project was to conduct a public survey in the first community park. Katie Bishop of Yalla PR worked with Starr Whitehouse to create and distribute a park user survey. Katie used her skills and local knowledge to find ways to reach the wide variety of park users, some with access to technology, others without.. The average response rate for a park survey of this type is 250-300 completed surveys. Katie's strategy was so energetic and so successful and so broad what they received over 2,374 completed park surveys!
Not only did this phenomenal response give Trees Columbus excellent data to base their park plan on, it also generated a wave of public support and excitement that will be vital to the success and future of our tree canopy-based park planning process in Columbus. Katie is a strong believer in the Trees Columbus mission, and she used her skills to advance a project that is vital to the Columbus community as a whole.
Thomas Jolliff is Operations Manager for Arborguard Tree Specialisst and has a valuable impact on the metro Atlanta community, even though most of his work exists behind the scenes. Thomas has worked his way from an inexperienced groundsperson trainee to tree climber and now Operations Director. He stands testament to determination, hard work, team work, and growing in the field that you are in, even if it was never something you expected to find yourself doing for a living when you start out hauling brush to keep the bills paid! His commitment to the growth, education, and safety training of the team as a whole cannot be understated, and he works tirelessly to see each of his tree workers succeed. He understands the extensive value of a work force that is committed, well-trained and educated to the community, to the company, and to each and every tree their team lays a hand on in any capacity. This has translated to an immediate improvement in the team’s performance in just the roughly one year he has been in his position. Thomas is an ISA Certified Arborist, and an immense asset to the Georgia tree industry.
Jacob Lange is a landscape architect and the Director of Starr Whitehouse’s Atlanta studio, where he leads projects ranging from urban open spaces, waterfront parks, and community-focused green infrastructure. Under Jacob’s direction, Starr Whitehouse leads two of the City of Atlanta’s Green Infrastructure Design Challenge projects, integrating stormwater management into community-enhancing open spaces and educational and vocational training programs that support economic development in underserved communities.
In Columbus Georgia, Jacob and his team are taking on an innovative, public-private project with Trees Columbus to enhance and revitalize Columbus parks through park planning and tree canopy management. Jacob has used his creativity and initiative to create a park planning process focused on improving tree health and reducing hazards while improving the overall ecological health of the park and creating a space that is inclusive and meets the needs of the wide-ranging community of park users. Going above and beyond to work with a variety of stakeholders, Jacob and his Starr Whitehouse team have created a park planning process that can replicated in other parks to improve existing condition of urban park trees AS WELL AS improve the long-term maintenance and sustainability of existing and newly-planted trees.
Meagan plays a critical role within the Keep Georgia Beautiful Foundation network. In her role as Program and Affiliate Support Manager, Meagan supports local affiliates and engages additional communities to improve their local environment. This, of course, encompasses planting and caring for community trees. Meagan’s work has encompassed overseeing community orchard project grants, facilitating affiliate staff training opportunities, providing technical support for local affiliates and communities, and managing multiple community improvement programs including KGBF’s signature Great American Cleanup in Georgia (GAC) program. In addition to an environmental cleanup focus, GAC promotes beautification and greening throughout the state. Over the last three years, more than 500 trees were planted through the program.
Meagan has also been the driving force for Bring One for the Chipper, the largest tree recycling program in the nation, since she joined the organization. She spearheads efforts to bring together sponsors, recruits participating communities, and provides resources and supplies to participating organizations. Christmas trees are recycled into mulch for beautification projects and are used to provide habitats for fish and other wildlife. Under Meagan’s leadership over the last 5 years, over 500,000 Christmas trees have been diverted from landfills and 59,000 seedlings (donated from the Georgia Forest Commission) have been distributed to participants throughout the state. These are just a sampling of Meagan’s contributions. Because of Meagan’s leadership, the Keep Georgia Beautiful Foundation has continued to grow its impact across the state. She can be counted on to provide innovative ideas and solutions, be attentive to the details of each program, and enthusiastically engage and support partners. She truly is a star for our organization and for the state.
GEORGIA TREE COUNCIL STARS 2020
Let’s salute our first annual Georgia Tree Council STARs! The STARs list recognizes up and coming leadership in Georgia - individuals under the age of 40 -- who’ve demonstrated “Service, Teamwork, Attitude, and Results” in their work for trees and the urban forest. In alphabetical order by last name, here are our STARs for 2020:
Renata Cambraia de Paiva
Renata Cambraia de Paiva is a native of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, Renata is a Trees Columbus board member and Environmental Consultant with Consolidated Resources, LLC. Renata started with Trees Columbus as a student board representative while completing her graduate work at Columbus State University. Renata plants thousands of trees every year between her professional work and her dedicated volunteer work with Trees Columbus. Renata is a dedicated Trees Columbus board volunteer, never failing to appear at events with a smile and usually bringing a crowd of new members and volunteers with her. Renata's social media savvy is a huge asset, and she took the lead on their most recent text2give campaign, as well.
Michael Glisson is a Certified Arborist and is the Parks and Beautification Director for Macon-Bibb County. Previously he was Grounds Manager and Arborist for Middle Georgia State University. In addition to being Parks and Beautification Director for Macon-Bibb County, Michael volunteers on his own time with the City of Forsyth Tree Board. He’s also currently playing an integral role in the revitalization of Macon’s Tree Board and Tree Ordinance. Michael’s colleagues say he is enthusiastic and extremely dedicated to Macon’s long-term revitalization and
Travys Harper is Green Infrastructure Manager for Trees Atlanta. Travys has been with Trees Atlanta since 2017, in roles like Urban Tree Tech, Urban Forestry Crew Tech, Youth Tree Team Supervisor, and Workforce Development Supervisor. Trees Atlanta considers Travys a vital, talented, and dedicated member of their team. His work as Youth Tree Team supervisor has brought dynamic energy the program, as he gets kids interested in nature and forests and makes a positive mark on young lives. Travys is enthusiastic about trees, planning and design, and environmental consciousness. He holds a bachelors degree in Environmental Design/Architecture from Auburn University and is currently continuing his education in Earthcraft, LEED, and arboriculture.
Seth Hawkins was nominated by a number of people who marvel at his never-ending enthusiasm and eagerness to help individuals and communities in building strong urban tree programs. Seth is a graduate from the University of Georgia's Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources and currently a Community Forester for the Georgia Forestry Commission. He works with the Sustainable Community Forestry Program (SCFP) to aid communities in 47 counties in Northeast Georgia with community forestry program planning and maintenance, storm damage mitigation, contingency, and evaluation plans. Public education regarding urban tree care and community trees' importance is a priority with Seth. One of his previous employers summed up Seth’s qualities succintly when he said that Seth possesses “a tremendous work ethic, great intellectual curiosity, and a dedication to excellence.”
Jake Henry is Field Manager for the Savannah Tree Foundation and an ISA-certified Arborist. Jake already has an impressive background to his credit: a Master’s Degree in Forest Ecology from Missisippi State, work as a lab,field, and research technician for Cornell University, and a restoration technician for both the Nature Conservancy and the Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative in Hawaii. Jake is working hard educating citizens about the importance of a healthy tree canopy in the Savannah area, working with volunteers and encouraging citizens to get involved, and being an enthusiastic role model for young people in urban forestry.
Randell Hunt is a dedicated champion for Macon-Bibb County’s community trees. A certified arborist, Randell served as Community Forester for Macon-Bibb County for many years and now is an arborist for the area with the Georgia Power Company. He has served also on the Macon-Bibb County Tree Commission. He is currently wrapping up a four-year stint as a board member for the Georgia Tree Council. Randell’s colleagues say that he always approaches every challenge with a smile and a “can-do” attitude, is willing to think outside the box and go above and beyond the call of duty, and is one of Macon-Bibb’s strongest advocates for a healthy, sustainable urban canopy.
Maegan Mullinax was recently received the 2020 Rising Star Award from the Utility Arborist Association and we wanted her to be our STAR too – because she is so deserving. Previously a Systems Arborist for North Georgia EMC and the City Arborist for the City of Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, Maegan is now Business Develoment Manager for ARCT Services. A dedicated certified arborist, Maegan has served ARCT as an area safety representative, a safety committee member and as a storm response team member. She recently spoke on a virtual “Women in Vegetation Management” panel discussion at the Trees and Utilities Conference. Everyone who works with Maegan will tell you that nobody has more enthusiasm and dedication to her field.
A Columbus native and graduate of the University of Georgia, Mercedes Parham is Trees Columbus Board President and Communications Officer for the Muscogee County School District. Mercedes was recently named one of Columbus's "4 Under 40" by Columbus and the Valley Magazine for her leadership contributions to the community. Mercedes' communication and organizational skills have been invaluable in helping Trees Columbus navigate a difficult 2020. Mercedes believes strongly in using her communication skills to influence positive change in the larger community, and her focus on positive change is helping Trees Columbus focus our own programs to be as effective and efficient as possible. Under Mercedes' leadership, Trees Columbus is reaching new communities within Columbus and increasing the health of urban tree canopy where it is needed the most.
A self-proclaimed “urban policy nerd,” Zoe is passionate about improving communities, and one of the ways she is most dedicated to doing that is through the planted environment - in other words – the urban forest. Zoe has a big job as Executive Director of the Savannah Tree Foundation, because Savannah’s trees, especially its live oaks, are connected to its very identity, not to mention important for its environmental, economic, social, and health benefits. After earning her bachelor’s degree from Yale, Zoe worked for several years in Baltimore in deconstruction and urban planning research. Her hometown of Savannah is so happy to have her back, leading the Savannah Tree Foundation as it “protects and grows Chatham County’s urban forest through tree planting, community engagement, and advocacy.
Lindsay Walker is the City Arborist for the City of Sandy Springs. With a diploma in environmental horticulture, Lindsay joined their team in June 2019 and within a short period of time has built a reputation for being responsive to both the community and other departments. According to her colleagues, she has a true passion for her work and is always available to share her knowledge. Sustainability Director Catherine Mercier-Baggett says that Lindsay helped her create plant palettes for different landscape applications to give developers and builders strong guidance for their planting plans. Lindsay is currently preparing a list of recommendations for their tree ordinance for their next Development Code update. Catherine says Lindsay has a positive attitude and it’s a true pleasure to work with her