About Us

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: info@treestewards.org

Officers for 2021 are:

President: 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.

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: Sally Burmeister

Sally became a Tree Steward in 2015 after realizing that the reason she doesn’t live in Florida is because she loves the trees of her childhood. She is in her fourth year as Treasurer of Tree Stewards. Sally resides in the Parkfairfax Condominium where there is a bounty of old trees, a remnant of Eastern Forest, and other woodlands on the 132 acre property. As a supporter of making the organization more user friendly for those who are interested but crushed for time, it is exciting to have talented new people taking their place next to the oldies but goodies who continue to serve. Sally made it possible for members to purchase “swag” items with the Tree Steward logo from a local vendor who, hopefully, will survive the challenges of the pandemic.

At-Large Board Member: Nora Palmatier

Nora Palmatier has been an active member since the first Tree Steward training in 2001. She served as TSAA President in the past and is currently an At Large Board Member and the Chair of the Training Committee. She is on the planning committee of the Northern Virginia Urban Forestry Roundtable and recently completed 13 years on Arlington County’s Urban Forestry Commission. Since retiring from a career in public health and social service management, she spends two days a week hiking in forests.

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: Scott Knudsen



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)