Tree Stewards of Arlington and Alexandria are Northern Virginia volunteers who take the lead to enhance a sustainable urban forest through volunteer activities and public education programs. Our volunteer activities include:
- planting, pruning, mulching and watering of street, park and school trees
- staffing informational booths at farmers’ markets and local festivals
- leading neighborhood Tree Walks and speaking at community gatherings
- advocating for trees wherever and whenever needed
Our chapter took root in 2001, with help from Virginia Cooperative Extension and the Virginia Urban Forestry Council’s Trees Virginia.
After a steady growth in membership, TSAA in 2010 adopted bylaws, elected a board of directors to oversee its budget and programs, and reaffirmed its partnerships with Arlington County, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Alexandria City and Trees Virginia. TSAA became a registered nonprofit with the state of Virginia and the IRS.
TSAA welcomes all citizens who care about trees to join us. For information on training classes, upcoming activities, requesting a Tree Steward speaker, or to comment on trees in your neighborhood, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Officers for 2022 are:
President: Nora Palmatier
I was in the first TS class in 2001 and have been involved in many projects since then.
While still working, my limited time was spent mostly on Saturday events like plantings,
invasive plant removals and staffing education tables at farmers markets. I was on the
Board and President in 2010 for several years and then stepped down to concentrate on
Arlington’s Tree Canopy Fund, Urban Forestry Commission, Regional Forestry
Roundtable and Trees Virginia Board. My goal if elected President is to get our
organization back to it’s strong functioning before the pandemic. Our membership has
about 90 committed tree lovers doing incredible volunteer work that few of us hear
about — changing that dynamic so others can join the activities is what we need to find a
way to do. I’m hoping our new training class in Feb/March with both Zoom learnings
and a full “smorgasbord” of weekend activities will jump start that process. 2022 is
going to be a good year for Tree Stewards no matter what!
VP for Membership: Catherine Harris
After retiring in 2014 from a career in higher education administration, Catherine relocated from Idaho to Arlington in 2016 to be near her youngest grandchildren. Coming from the Mountain West with its evergreen forests and high sagebrush deserts, she fell in love with the splendid hardwood trees of the East. Catherine became a Tree Steward in 2017 and participated in invasive removals, plantings, conferences, training activities, and public education events. She is pleased to have the opportunity to become more active in TSAA..
VP for Communications: Lauren Oschman
Lauren joined Tree Stewards in 2018 after looking for a way to get more involved in the Arlington community. As a Girl Scout camp counselor in the hills of East Tennessee, she went by the camp name “Lorax” and pursued her love of nature into a career in international conservation and development project management. She has a graduate certificate in Forest Carbon Science, Policy and Management from MSU, but working with Tree Stewards has allowed her to finally see the individual trees instead of the whole forest! Lauren enjoys volunteering for planting, pruning, and the farmer’s market education tables, and manages the Tree Stewards’ website, communications, and social media.
Treasurer: Carol Weldon
I recently retired after a 37 year civil service career as a budget analyst and financial analyst for the Department of the Navy. My work experience included preparation and analysis of financial statements and extensive use of Excel spreadsheets. I completed the Tree Steward training in 2013. Before COVID, for several years I organized the information table at the Arlington Courthouse Farmers Market. I also enjoyed volunteering at the Arlington Parks Nursery and at Earth Sangha and in support of the Arlington Tree Canopy Program. I have been involved with the restoration of a wooded area at my church. I completed the Arlington Regional Master Naturalist training in spring 2021.
At-Large Board Member: Paul Kaplowitz
Paul lived for 21 years in Richmond VA before moving to Alexandria in 2004 to work as a pediatric endocrinologist at Children’s Hospital in DC before he retired in 2018. While on medical leave in 2016 he contacted John Noelle, the former Alexandria chief arborist about volunteering for some tree-related work and was asked to create a database of trees planted in the city in the 1980s and 90s which gave him an appreciation for the diversity of trees the city has planted (except for those Callery pears). He has always been amazed at how well many street trees do on the narrow strip of grass between the sidewalk and street and has appreciated their shade and beauty during frequent walks around the Rosemont area of Alexandria. He was part of the TS class of 2019-2020 and has enjoyed tree plantings, tree prunings, tree ID walks, and meeting fellow Tree Stewards.
At-Large Board Member: Scott Knudsen
Scott Knudsen became a Tree Steward with the first training class for Arlington/Alexandria in 2001 and has remained active since. Having had the choice in the late 1990s to either stay in Houston, Texas, or move to Alexandria, he moved to northern Virginia in the late 1990s because he absolutely loves the tree canopy here. He lives in Parkfairfax, Alexandria, and is a member of their Landscape Committee and that committee’s Woodlands Subcommittee. He has played an active role in removing invasive vines from the woodlands in Parkfairfax for many years. He has served on the board of the local Potowmack Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society for several years and currently serves as its Treasurer. He founded the Northern Alexandria Native Plant Sale and has run that event twice a year (except for a two-year hiatus due to COVID) along with his wife Jennifer since October 2003. Scott enjoys giving regular tree walks to share with others his appreciation for our region’s beautiful trees.
At-Large Board Member: Bonnie Petry
Bonnie’s love of trees and “nearby nature” began when her mother walked her home from preschool through the tree-lined streets of D.C.’s Cleveland Park and through a wooded lot that her mother termed “the big forest.” This love grew as she began exploring Rock Creek Park. She made a commitment to give back to the urban forest in 2010 when she signed up for the Tree Stewards class and began thinking about ways she could increase the number of native trees in her Alexandria neighborhood and nearby Tarleton Park. Since then she has conceived and shepherded a number of tree planting projects in Alexandria parks that have resulted in the planting of hundreds of varied native trees that otherwise never would have been planted. As much as she enjoys these tree planting projects, she finds as great or more enjoyment in encouraging and coaching newer Tree Stewards with their projects, expanding her knowledge of trees, and consulting with area homeowners on tree care and “right tree, right place” tree selection. Bonnie is a 1993 graduate of the United States Coast Guard Academy. Following her several years as a Coast Guard Officer, she transitioned to the government relations field. She works in that field today for a large aerospace corporation. This experience proves helpful outside of work in planning and conducting grassroots advocacy efforts to encourage the preservation and enhancement of Alexandria’s tree canopy and “nearby nature.”
At-Large Board Member: Deborah Wood
Deborah is a resident of Arlington, and is fortunate to have lived in a neighborhood with a beautiful (but now dwindling) oak tree canopy since 1981. Her career in the museum field focused on the care of cultural property, first in the fields of anthropology and archeology at the National Museum of Natural History, and then with international cultural exhibits organized at the NMNH. For the last 13 years of her career, she developed a program for preservation of the art and historical furnishings at the United States Senate. One day, she happened upon a Tree Steward information table at the Westover Farmers Market, and as soon as she retired, she signed up for the 2015 Tree Steward training class. Although she has always loved trees, the training provided much needed knowledge and motivation to learn more. Immediately following retirement, Deborah also became the Barcroft neighborhood representative to the Arlington County Neighborhood Conservation Advisory Commission. This has given her a forum to communicate information about County programs that support the tree canopy to the Barcroft neighborhood. Volunteer activities with Tree Stewards add to her appreciation and knowledge of trees, and provide the opportunity to work with like-minded people on projects such as pruning, the Tree Canopy Fund, Notable Trees, tree plantings, and tree information tables.
At-Large Board Member: Pattee Ryan
Pattee joined Tree Stewards in 2018 after realizing her need for a greater commitment to tree education and advocacy. Since joining, Pattee has been able to plant and prune trees, and educate on the value of a healthy tree canopy in our Alexandria and Arlington area. Moving forward, Pattee hopes to continue such community engagement as well as expand and emphasize on the importance of volunteer organizations like Tree Stewards for the local environment and surrounding community.
At-Large Board Member: John Wingard
John is an attorney from Ohio who worked in Washington, DC, for the Department of Housing and Urban Development in the General Counsel’s Office for 38 years. After retiring at the end of 2004, he went to a tree measuring training session held by the Arlington County Urban Foresters in the fall of 2009 and, at the end of the training, volunteered to head up tree measuring and evaluation for the Notable Tree Program. In early 2010, he took Tree Steward training, and since then he has continued to focus on Arlington’s tree recognition programs, among other activities such as tree planting, county tree distribution programs, advice to homeowners with tree issues, and tree advocacy. He is also a member of the Arlington Tree Action Group. John is a life-long tree hobbyist and identifier, managing his parent’s landscaping at their home in Ohio, and now managing the ½ acre urban forest next to the Stratford school where he lives with his wife Allison and Callie Cat. John served as President of TSAA in 2020-21.
Tree Stewards is a statewide program sponsored by the Virginia Urban Forestry Council.
Chapters in the Dominion include:
Charlottesville/Albemarle Tree Stewards
Front Royal Tree Stewards
Lynchburg Tree Stewards
Richmond Tree Stewards
Roanoke Tree Stewards
Virginia Beach Tree Stewards (specialized Master Gardeners)