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CONTACT: Brian Haines, public information officer
N.C. Forest Service

Winners of 2012 Urban Forestry Awards announced

Winners are from Gastonia, Pine Knoll Shores, Raleigh, Wilmington

RALEIGH — Organizations and individuals from Gastonia, Pine Knoll Shores, Raleigh and Wilmington are winners of the 2012 North Carolina Urban Forestry Awards.

The annual program rewards cities, towns, organizations, businesses and individuals for outstanding work to protect and enhance community forests and raise awareness about the importance of urban forestry projects. 

“These awards are a testament to the communities and individuals who do so much to improve municipal forests across North Carolina,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler.

The N.C. Forest Service announced winners in the following award categories:

  • Outstanding Individual Grand Award: Student founders of Re-growing Nature at Washington (RNAW), Washington GT Magnet Elementary School, Raleigh;
  • Outstanding Project Merit Award: Trees Across Raleigh, Washington GT Magnet Elementary School Tree Planting;
  • Outstanding Professional Grand Award: Heather Vickory Bishop, Raleigh;
  • Outstanding Project Grand Award: Keep Gastonia Beautiful, “Arbor Day in the Park”;
  • Outstanding Tree Board or Urban Forestry Committee Grand Award: Pine Knoll Shores Community Appearance Commission;
  • Tree City USA of the Year: City of Wilmington.

Entries were judged for impact, quality, innovation and the degree to which the work serves as a worthy example for others to follow.

Award recipients were recognized at the N.C. Urban Forest Council’s 2012 Annual Conference Awards Luncheon on Aug. 8 at the Hickory Metro Convention Center. 

For more information, contact Jennifer Rall at 919-857-4849 or download an application from the N.C. Forest Service website,

Project descriptions

Outstanding Individual Grand Award

In the wake of the April 2011 tornado, a group of fourth-grade students at Washington GT Magnet Elementary School came up with a plan to raise money to replace lost trees. While school leaders were still planning how to replace the trees, a group of students formed a club, Re-growing Nature at Washington, or RNAW. The group produced and distributed a flier and began collecting contributions.  Upon learning of the fund-raising efforts of RNAW, school leaders pulled in the Washington PTA, Wake County Public School System and Trees Across Raleigh to assist with the project. What started as a simple plan by a handful of students to raise money to replace lost trees turned into a campus-wide planting and beautification project.

Outstanding Project Merit Award

The Washington Elementary School Tree Planting project, a partnership with the Wake County Public School System, the Washington Elementary PTA and Trees Across Raleigh, was conceived by students at the school after the tornado devastation of April 16, 2011. Washington GT Magnet Elementary School is located just south of downtown Raleigh. Many large, mature trees were lost, landscape vegetation incurred substantial damage, and the storm-water retention area was compromised. Landscape design, project management, planting demonstrations and implementation were provided by Trees Across Raleigh in cooperation with the school system. More than 100 community and school volunteers helped plant 93 trees, 39 shrubs, 51 perennials and 250 bulbs to replace those lost and to enhance the school environment.

Outstanding Professional Grand Award

Heather V. Bishop is a professional landscape architect and a member of Trees Across Raleigh. Since 2010, Heather has taken on the leadership role of the Junior Tree Steward Program, which educates elementary school students on the benefits of tree planting for a more sustainable and beautiful environment. Bishop has expanded this program to include a series of class activities over a six-week period, culminating in a tree planting on the school grounds. Under Bishop’s leadership, the program has reached more than 150 students at Joyner, Washington and Lacy elementary schools. Bishop was also instrumental in designing the landscape plan for the Washington GT Magnet Elementary School tree planting project.

Outstanding Project Grand Award

Held annually on Arbor Day, Keep Gastonia Beautiful’s “Arbor Day in the Park” program brings together students and spectators from all across Gaston County for a day of celebration, education and action. Students and visitors are able to experience the benefits of urban forests firsthand by interacting with the park environment and enjoying the benefits trees provide. Each participating school plants a new tree in the park. The program also features an Arbor Day poster contest for students in elementary through high school. In 2012, 13 schools brought 800 students to the event, with a total attendance of more than 1,000 people.

Outstanding Tree Board or Urban Forestry Committee

The Pine Knoll Shores Community Appearance Commission has a history of collaboration with other community organizations, including local government staff, elected officials, independent volunteer groups and other appointed boards. All of its efforts center on the conservation of the area’s maritime forest. The Community Appearance Commission has a unique partnership with the town’s planning department that allows the group to review, inspect and approve building permits as they pertain to tree protection, removals and pruning. This partnership allows for economic growth and development, while keeping tree protection in the forefront of planning.

Tree City USA of the Year

Wilmington has been a Tree City USA community for the past nine years and has received seven Tree City USA Growth Awards during this time. Wilmington is being recognized as a Tree City USA of the Year because of the combined efforts of city staff and the members of the Wilmington Tree Commission.  This past year, faced with the demise of the tree canopy on Fifth Avenue, one of Wilmington’s central streets, local residents, city officials and the Wilmington Tree Commission launched a reforestation plan that stands as an example of public-private collaboration and a model for future reforestation projects with the city. The Fifth Avenue Reforestation Plan called for the removal of diseased and dying Laurel oaks and to replace them with Live oaks. To date, 78 Live oaks have been planted along Fifth Avenue, with a goal to have 100 trees planted by the end of 2012.


NCDA&CS Public Affairs Division, Brian Long, Director
Mailing Address:1001 Mail Service Center, Raleigh NC 27699-1001
Physical Address: 2 West Edenton Street, Raleigh NC 27601
Phone: (919) 707-3001; FAX: (919) 733-5047

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Steve Troxler, Commissioner of Agriculture

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