Rotary District 6270 Receives Project Partnership Award in Tree Planting from Urban Forestry Council

On Tuesday, Feb. 19, Rotary International District 6270 received the Project Partnership Award from the Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council.  The award was presented at the 2019 Wisconsin Arborist Association/DNR Urban Forestry Conference at the KI Convention Center in Green Bay. Rotary District 6270 was recognized for extraordinary partnership between local Rotary Clubs, and municipalities, other service organizations, and citizens in planting trees.  Receiving the award on behalf of Rotary District 6270 were Jeffrey Reed, 2017-18 Governor of Rotary District 6270 and member of Fond du Lac Morning Rotary Club; and Connie Pukaite, former Mayor of Mequon, leader in creating Mequon’s Rotary Park, and a past Director of the Wisconsin DNR, representing District Tree Planting Coordinator Brian Monroe and the Mequon-Thiensville Sunrise Rotary Club. 


Partners of the Rotary Clubs included city governments, schools, other service clubs (e.g., Lions), land trusts, boy/cub scouts, Rotaract and Interact clubs, environmental organizations, and others.  Rotarians planted numerous varieties of trees, including apple, cedar, elm, fir, hackberry, hickory, oak, pine, river birch, spruce, and many other species.  Some clubs secured grant funding to support tree planting.  Clubs were assisted by Urban Foresters in the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and local governments.  Rotarians also received support from the Environmental Sustainability Rotarian Action Group (ESRAG).

The project was stimulated by a challenge issued world-wide to members of Rotary International by the 2017-18 Rotary President Ian Riseley.  With over 1.2 million Rotary members, Riseley challenged each of the 35,000 Rotary Clubs in the world to Make a Difference by planting at least one tree for each of its Rotary Members during the Rotary Year. 

In his January 2017 challenge, Riseley said, “Environmental degradation and global climate change are serious threats to everyone. They are having a disproportionate impact on those who are most vulnerable, those to whom Rotary has the greatest responsibility. … The time is long past when environmental sustainability can be dismissed as not Rotary’s concern. It is, and must be, everyone’s concern.”  Riseley also suggested, “There’s something about planting a tree that speaks to people in a very primal way. It shows a long-term commitment to the community.  … somehow, planting a tree captures the imagination.”

Rotarians in southeast Wisconsin District 6270, responded by exceeding the goal of planting 2,800 trees – they planted nearly 6,800 trees.  They contributed more than 3,000 service hours, and invested over $162,000 in community trees during the 2017-18 Rotary Year.  More than 44 Rotary Clubs in southeast Wisconsin were involved. 

Rotarians and their partners planted trees in parks and woods, on school grounds, in nature preserves, in city squares, along hiking and biking trails, in arboretums and retirement communities.  With the assistance of Wisconsin Rotarians, some trees were even planted by Rotarians in Haiti and Tanzania.   World-wide, Rotarians were Making a Difference by planting over 4.7 million trees.

Participants included Rotary Clubs from Manitowoc, Menasha, Neenah and Two Rivers on the north, to Delavan, Elkhorn, Kenosha, Lake Geneva, and Racine, on the south.  Some of the most prolific tree-planting Rotary Clubs were Mequon Thiensville Sunrise Rotary (11.6 trees planted per club member), and Hartland Lake Country Rotary (11.2 trees planted per club member).  Other clubs that planted a large numbers of trees included the Rotary Club of Cedarburg Grafton, Fond du Lac Morning and Noon Rotary Clubs, Rotary Club of Milwaukee, Rotary Club of Oconomowoc, Rotary Clubs of Sheboygan and Sheboygan Early Bird, Rotary Club of Thiensville Mequon, and Rotary Clubs of Waukesha and Waukesha Sunrise.

Kristin Gies, Urban Forestry Council Awards Committee Chair and Executive Director of the Mequon Nature Preserve commented, “My nature preserve benefitted from the involvement of over 50 people who planted more than 200 mature trees.  The Urban Forestry Council awards selection committee was impressed with the impact created by this one organization, Rotary International, planting trees in Wisconsin and around the globe.” 

Jordan Skiff, Chair of the Urban Forestry Council and Fond du Lac Director of Public Works commented, “Due to the partnership of Rotary Clubs – raising funds, recruiting other partners, organizing and volunteering their time to plant trees – the city’s urban forest has more trees and increased diversity than it would have otherwise.  In my own community of Fond du Lac, City Arborist Brian Weed and Parks Superintendent John Redmond, worked closely with Rotary and other partners to manage an emerald ash borer infestation.”

Said Past Rotary District Governor Reed, “It was exciting that so many Rotary Clubs in Wisconsin responded so positively to this initiative and engaged so many partners.  There was great enthusiasm among many Rotarians for the environment through tree planting.  We thank our many partners, such as the Urban Foresters at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources who provided assistance.  We greatly appreciate recognition from the Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council.   And, we welcome others to join Rotary in caring for the environment.” 

Southeast Wisconsin Rotary District 6270, with over 2,700 Rotarian members in 54 clubs, is one of 535 Districts in Rotary International.  An association of 1.2 million members in 35,000 Rotary Clubs in 200 countries and geographic areas, Rotary International is united by the motto “Service Above Self.”  Rotary Clubs provide service to improve communities and the world.  The organization is aided by The Rotary Foundation, which supports humanitarian projects that address challenges in six focus areas – water and sanitation, peace and conflict resolution, basic education and literacy, disease prevention and treatment, child and maternal health, and economics and community development.  The signature global project of Rotary International is the eradication of polio, initiated in 1985, to which it has contributed over US$1.7 billion, countless service hours and achieved a reduction in polio cases of over 99.9 percent worldwide working with partners, WHO, UNICEF, US CDC, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. 

For photos of some of our Rotary Clubs planting trees, check our Facebook page at