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Trees Matter McPherson Award


We are excited to continue a new tradition with the 
Trees Matter McPherson Award, as a way to honor exemplary work and extraordinary efforts to inspire and promote an increased tree canopy Valley-wide. 

Please use the form below to nominate those doing exemplary work and extraordinary efforts to inspire and promote an increased tree canopy Valley-wide. Click HERE for a link to the application form. Trees Matter has called to collect nominations that will be reviewed by a panel of Trees Matter Board Members and Jim McPherson.

Applications are now open for 2024! Deadline for submissions is by September 30th 2024. 

We will honor the awardees at our annual Mesquite Pancake Breakfast for Dinner on Friday November 1st, 2024. We are excited to see all the amazing people who are doing tree-mendous work! 

2 free tickets per awardee will be provided to attend the Annual Mesquite Pancake Breakfast for Dinner.

2023 Awardee

Greg Peterson has devoted his life to inspiring people to plant trees and gardens and to understand the importance of a healthy local food system. Over the past 24 years, The Urban Farm Fruit Tree Program has educated tens of thousands of people in the low desert on the best ways to plant and nurture trees. Each September, Greg and his team offer a series of tree planting classes, educating people about best-practice methods for their trees to thrive. 

The Urban Farm Fruit Tree Program has been responsible for delivering over 70,000 fruit and mesquite trees to the low desert through their programs. Today, many enjoy the shade and "fruits" of the program's labor with these wonderful trees.

He has donated countless trees to schools and community gardens over the years and is always willing to share information and encourage the proper "care and feeding" of trees.

Greg was the co-founder of the precursor organization that is now Trees Matter, The Phoenix Permaculture Guild. Approximately 20 years ago, he and Don Titmus began bringing the mesquite bean hammer mill from Tucson for a weekend every year in the Phoenix area, milling beans for the community. Greg and Don, through a community fundraising event, purchased a mesquite bean hammer mill so that the Phoenix area could benefit from harvesting and milling mesquite flour locally. 

On behalf of Trees Matter and all tree and shade advocates across the Valley, congratulations and thank you to Greg!


Greg Peterson

2022 Awardee

In 2010, the City of Phoenix adopted the Tree and Shade Master Plan, which, among other initiatives, called for the creation of a Citizen Tree and Shade Subcommittee. Fast forward seven years... After witnessing eight established shade trees being ripped out of a formerly shade-covered plaza in downtown Phoenix and no action taken to create the Subcommittee, community advocates Sean Sweat and Stacey Champion decided something needed to be done. Sean and Stacey created and led an ad hoc Citizen Tree & Shade Committee of concerned community members with various strategic backgrounds (including arborists, landscape architects, lawyers, and business owners). 

Over several months, the ad hoc Subcommittee gathered in their free time to research and draft a robust set of recommendations to motivate the City into action and to give the City an informed starting point for improving existing initiatives and developing new ones. Due in no small part to the hard work and dedication of Sean, Stacey, and the ad hoc Committee, the City acted by creating the current Urban Heat Tree & Shade Subcommittee under the Environmental Quality & Sustainability Commission and launching, over time, other needed sustainability and climate change initiatives. Because there is always work to be done to provide more trees and shade in the Valley, Sean and Stacey lit a spark to push the City forward to implement the goals in the original 2010 Tree and Shade Master Plan and keep the issue in the public eye.

Stacey Champion and Sean Sweat

2021 Awardee

Nicole Rodriguez has been a powerful voice in driving strong stakeholder engagement to increase our urban tree canopy and mitigate our urban heat island. As an ISA Certified Arborist with APS and active with the Arizona Community Tree Council, Citizen Tree and Shade Committee, Heat Action Planning consortium, Urban Phoenix Project, and City of Phoenix Urban Heat Island and Tree and Shade Subcommittee, Nicole knows full well the importance of trees and shade. On a recent environmental podcast, she noted, "There’s nothing else in nature or our man-made environment that can do what a tree can do. A tree can sequester carbon, a tree can mitigate stormwater runoff, a tree can provide shade, but also a tree can create a cooling atmosphere more effectively and efficiently than a man-made structure can." And to put words into action, Nicole led this year's community effort to urge Phoenix Village Planning Committees, the Planning Commission, and City Council to adopt tree protection zones for established trees on land subject to construction in order to protect those trees and ensure their survival during construction. Nicole was there for every city online meeting – and rallied others to testify as well. Thanks to her passion, organizing skills, and advocacy, the effort was successful... and we are all the better for it.

Nicole Rodriguez

2020 Awardee

As part of the Sikh Tree Planting Committee in the Garfield Neighborhood, they were all integral parts in making sure the project was successful. The Sikh Community to celebrate 550 years of their faith, offered to donate trees to different neighborhoods in Phoenix. Garfield Neighborhood, a historically diverse neighborhood that struggles with tree equity and rising temperatures due to urban heat received 200 of these trees.

It was Andrew idea to modernize the effort by making a website from scratch, even paying the hosting and web costs from his own pocket. He made sure each page was also translated into Spanish to ensure that our Spanish Speaking Residents could also benefit from the project. He built the Google Forms and manages them as well. He talked to neighbors face to face and also posted on the Garfield Facebook page to encourage people to sign up. He did all this to make our neighborhood a cooler and greener place to live. Many of our neighbors and families are low income and can't afford to buy two trees to make their property more green. Making sure that the information was accessible and easy to understand helped ensure that our neighbors would be able to take part in this project.

As the City of Phoenix Neighborhood Specialist, Roberto helped the Garfield neighborhood organize a 200+ tree planting in October 2019 through a generous donation from the Phoenix Sikh community. Over the years he has helped the neighborhood with multiple attempts to improve our tree canopy. Roberto gathered a group of neighborhood leaders, pushed and pulled for the community to self-organize all while providing examples of best practices and support from the city.  This project would not have been able to find over 100 households to accept being caretakers for these trees without his tremendous help.  He continues to be the personification of how local government should work.

Joanna's passion for planting trees to help shade our city has carried our neighborhood through the last two tree plantings.  She has been one of the core volunteers and has led an effort in 2018 to get 50 trees planted, and for the 200-tree planting project.  She is in contact with organizations like Trees Matter, she brings materials from a diverse set of sources and keeps powering forward to get a great selection of trees in the ground.  Her knowledge and willingness to do what it takes to get things done is invaluable, and her energy unmatched.  She makes things happen, and in this case that's trees in the ground and a neighborhood educated with how to value and care for them. She thoroughly loves her experience as a tree planting leader; Garfield Trees is part of Joanna’s daily conversation.

Garfield 200 Tree Planting leaders

Joanna Repucci, Roberto Frietz, Andrew Raub

2019 Awardee

Bonnie has a passion for trees and was the driving force to help City of Tempe establish a goal of increasing the tree canopy from 13.4 percent to 25 percent by 2040, nearly doubling City of Tempe’s shade. She pushed for a tree plan, with a significant component of the plan is education about the importance of trees and the proper selection to promote health and variety of species, planting, watering, and pruning of trees. Bonnie fosters collaboration to these goals with residents, businesses and organizations. She promotes the guiding principles of an Urban Forest in all her efforts, all aimed at cultivating collective action, expanding shade to maximize urban cooling, improve walkability evenly, use resources widely, enhance property values, promote a healthy community, enhance community beautification and livability and right tree, right place.

Bonnie Richardson

Inaugural 2018 Awardee

Trees Matter named the first annual award after Jim McPherson, an inspiration as a true tree advocate. Jim is known as the "tree guy" in Downtown Phoenix and has been responsible for numerous plantings in the community (including McPherson Grove!). Jim is known for the facebook project 'A Tree Used to Grow in Phoenix' a creative way to "Speak for the Trees" by highlighting missing trees starting in 2014. He has served on city tree focused committees and has participated in many initiatives to promote increasing trees for the future. Citizens, city officials, and organizations seek Jim out as the go-to person for tree advocacy and input on promoting trees.

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