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The TREE Fund recently released the details of its scholarship and education grant award winners.

TREE Fund reveals scholarship and grant selections

Robert Felix Memorial Fund Awards

The TREE Fund Research and Education Committee recently awarded Kansas State University junior Matthew McKernan a $3,000 Robert Felix Memorial Scholarship to support the completion of his degree in Horticulture at KSU. McKernan’s lifelong passion for plants and horticulture first inspired him to volunteer at Botanica, The Wichita Gardens in his hometown of Wichita, Kansas. Eager to expand his knowledge of horticulture and arboriculture, he enrolled at KSU where he is current President of the Horticulture Club, Secretary/Treasurer of the College of Agriculture Competition Teams Council, and a member of the Landscape Contracting Team which competes at the international PLANET (Professional LAndcare NETwork) Conference each year. McKernan also is active in KSU’s campaign to attain Tree Campus USA certification, and traveled to Australia in January 2013 with the KSU Horticulture department and interned this summer with a landscaping company in Seattle. He’s a 4.0 student and enjoys photography, family and the outdoors.


For the second time in two years, the TREE Fund selected Greening of Detroit to receive a $5,000 Arboriculture Education Grant to support its Our LAND (Learn, Admire, Nurture, Dream) program. Our LAND provides environmental education programming for 5th and 6th graders at ten Detroit public schools, offering classroom learning and seasonal field trips to Detroit’s Rouge Park. Rouge Park, Detroit’s largest, is home to prairie, wetland, forest and grassland ecosystems and recreational opportunities focused on nature.

Our LAND activities incorporate curricula from Michigan Environmental Education, Earth Partnerships for Schools and the USDA Forest Service’s Discover Your Forest, including classroom instruction from Forest Service educators.  Students also will participate in a service learning project at Rouge Park focused on the impact of humans on ecosystems, with follow-up activities aimed at engaging their families in stewardship projects at the park. TREE Fund Arboriculture Education Grants are supported by the Robert Felix Memorial Fund, and provide up to $5,000 per year to support environmental education programs for children in grades K-12.


Wright, TREE Fund Scholarship Awards

A $2000 John Wright Memorial Scholarship is helping Kansas State University junior Luke Becker achieve his dream of a career in arboriculture.

Becker first ventured into the green industry with a lawn mowing service in the 6th grade, and knew right away that he was meant to work outdoors. His enthusiasm led him to KSU, and he has since developed a passion for arboriculture under the guidance of Greg VanBooven, owner of VanBooven Tree Care, where he’s worked part-time since 2012.

He put his tree climbing skills to the test this spring at the Professional LAndcare NETwork (PLANET) Student Career Days competition, where he and teammate Justin Brock earned third place in the arboriculture skills competition. His aptitude for arboriculture has him aspiring to ISA certification and a career in tree care. Becker is on track to graduate from KSU in May 2015 with a degree in Horticulture. The John Wright Memorial scholarship is supported by Wright Tree Service of Des Moines, Iowa.


A $2000 TREE Fund Scholarship was awarded this summer to Iowa State junior Maggie Harthoorn to support her aspirations to a degree and career in arboriculture. Harthoorn debuted in the tree care industry as a volunteer for the 2010 STIHL Tour des Trees, and returned to ride the Tour with her dad, John Harthoorn, in 2012 and 2013. Her enthusiasm for all things related to trees made her a favorite among the Tour riders, who embraced her as proof of a bright future for their industry.

Maggie’s passion for the environment shines through in all she does. “I would like to have a role in the conservation of the trees that provide us with so much value”, she says, “and to join the next generation of foresters that will take on the burden of preserving our natural and urban forests and family trees. Trees provide beauty and value to our lives that cannot be replaced by anything else, and I’d like to play a part in educating the public about the importance of trees”.

Maggie’s scholarship is supported by the TREE Fund’s General Fund and was made possible by the generosity of individual and corporate donors to the TREE Fund.


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