“Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone a long time ago planted a tree” – Warren Buffett
Buffett’s simple yet thoughtful quote conjures the image of one of life’s simple pleasures and, indeed of one of our most important natural resources – trees. It conveys our connectedness and the importance of positive action to enhance the lives of others and communities. Moreover, to me, it suggests the need for vision, forethought and sustainability.
Rotary President Ian on Environmental Sustainability and Trees Rotary International President Ian Riseley has challenged all 1.2 million Rotarians to plant a tree before Earth
Day, Sunday April 22, 2018.
Trees remove carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from the air, which slows global warming. Riseley explained that, “The time is long past when environmental sustainability can be dismissed as not Rotary’s concern. It is, and must be, everyone’s concern…Environmental degradation and global climate change are serious threats to everyone, and they are having a disproportionate impact on those who are most vulnerable, those to whom Rotary has the greatest responsibility.”
Of his Tree Planting Challenge he said “I believe the greater result will be a Rotary that recognizes our responsibility not only to the people on our planet, but to the planet itself.”
Right Here in District 5495 District 5495 Governor Nancy Van Pelt shares President Riseley’s passion for the beauty, value and usefulness of trees. She has even included a tree planting challenge in the 2017-18 Club Achievement Award. Several clubs have already embraced President Riseley’s challenge and club tree projects are underway or already completed.
Clubs can interpret this call to action in a broad and inclusive way. Plant a tree or two with your family at your own residence to enhance your landscaping and the value of yo
ur property. Join you r club for an organized tree planting project or join another organization that is leading a tree planting activity in your community. Or, provide funding to others who will carry out a project.
Getting Your Club Started
Partnerships will be an important part of the tree planting initiative.
Community groups like The Arizona Community Tree Foundation, Trees Matter and the Arbor Foundation possess incredible expertise and are willing to help Rotarians and Clubs make a difference and accomplish their goals. Schools, churches, businesses, cities and non-profit organizations are often in need of help to improve appearance and value of their facilities, downtown districts, or roadways. Perhaps there are ways that our Rotarians can assist in areas that have experienced forest fires, blight or other unfortuna
te circumstance?
When you embark on your project, you’ll want to ensure that your plantings survive and thrive. This means understanding which trees benefit from your local climate a
nd the best time of year for planting. Additionally, awareness of where exactly your trees will be planted and attention to plans for ongoing maintenance are very important. Learning to properly and safely plant the trees i s also key to the survival of the tree.
Tracking and accounting for your tree planting activity is essential. Relevant information includes the date of the planting, the location of the tree, the type of tree(s) planted, the monetary value of the trees planted, the name of the Rotarian and the Club name. You might consider assigning a “tree planting coordinator” or assigning work to an existing club committee. Showing one of the attached videos at you club meeting would make for a fun and informative learning experience.
Online Resources
Here are videos and documents that will guide, inform and support your efforts and are provided compliments of the Arizona Community Tree Foundation.
Great documents for selecting the proper tree for the location
Videos for how to properly plant, prune and water trees 
Here’s a great directory of tree-care professionals who can help people care for their trees
Professional Resources
The Arizona Community Tree Foundation is a statewide organization with contacts in all parts of our District. Their website will give you links to additional organizations such as the US Forest Services, the Arbor Foundation, the Arizona State Department of Forestry.
Another organization serving Maricopa County is Trees Matter. Trees Matter is expert at putting together volunteer activities, is currently working with the Camelback Crossroads Club and can be reached at As is often the case, there are knowledgeable Rotarians who are foresters, arborists and landscaping professionals. If there isn’t a“tree person”in your club, your members most certainly know someone.
Share your Story and Photos! It will be fun to learn all the creative ways that individual
s, clubs and areas in District 5495 will meet this challenge.
Tom Hutchinson is the lead on the D5495 Tree Planting Challenge. He is a charter member of the Rotary Club of Glendale West and the spouse of District Governor Nan
cy Van Pelt. He can be reached at or 602-768-1998.