Talking Trees with Davey Tree

What is Arbor Day? with the Arbor Day Foundation President Dan Lambe

April 29, 2021 The Davey Tree Expert Company Season 1 Episode 16
Talking Trees with Davey Tree
What is Arbor Day? with the Arbor Day Foundation President Dan Lambe
Show Notes Transcript

This week we are joined with the President of the Arbor Day Foundation Dan Lambe to discuss what exactly Arbor Day is and what the Arbor Day Foundation does. Listen to learn about the great programs this foundation does to promote tree planting across the globe! And don't forget to celebrate national Arbor Day this year on Friday, April 30, 2021.

We're celebrating Arbor Day all month long with the Davey Planting Project Giveaway! We want to promote tree planting this Arbor Day, so we're giving away tree seeds to anyone and everyone who is interested! All you have to do is email a mailing address to and you'll receive your complimentary seeds in the mail along with planting instructions.  You have until April 30, 2021 to send us an email for your seeds. *Seeds can only be mailed within the U.S.

In this episode we cover:

  • History of the Arbor Day Foundation (1:22)
  • Programs (2:25)
  • Ways you can help with the Arbor Day Foundation's mission (3:50)
  • Urgency to plant (5:07)
  • Natural disasters - Community Tree Recovery program (6:54)
  • How Dan came to love trees and started his job (8:40)
  • Team Trees - YouTube campaign (10:18)
  • International programs (12:39)
  • Shade trees (14:23)
  • Tree Campus Healthcare (15:26)
  • Arbor Day! (16:48)

To learn more about the Arbor Day Foundation, check out its website
To learn more about ways you can celebrate Arbor Day, go to

To find your local Davey office, check out our find a local office page to search by zip code.

Connect with the Arbor Day Foundation on Facebook @arborday, Twitter @arborday and Instagram @arbordayfoundation.

Connect with Davey Tree on social media:
Twitter: @DaveyTree
Facebook: @DaveyTree
Instagram: @daveytree
YouTube: The Davey Tree Expert Company
LinkedIn: The Davey Tree Expert Company


Doug Oster: Welcome to the Davey Tree Expert Company's podcast, Talking Trees. I'm your host, Doug Oster. Each episode showcases one of Davey's certified arborists sharing advice with everyone about caring for your trees and landscapes. We'll talk about everything from introduced pests, seasonal tree care, deer damage, how to make your trees thrive, and much, much more. Tune in every Thursday to learn more, because here at the Talking Trees podcast, we know trees are the answer.


Welcome back tree and nature lovers. Before we talk all about Arbor Day with the President of the Arbor Day Foundation, don't forget to send for your free tree seeds as part of a Davey planting project in celebration of the holiday. All you need to do is send an email requesting seeds to this address, that's podcasts, which is plural, Let me spell it for you. P-O-D-C-A-S-T-S, @Davey, D-A-V-E-Y, dot com. You're running out of time. You've got until April 30th to send that email, and we'll get those seeds right back to you.

What a great way to conclude our month-long look at Arbor Day by welcoming Dan Lambe. He's the President of the Arbor Day Foundation. Welcome to the show, Dan.

Dan Lambe: Thanks for having me. It's great to be here.

Doug: When most people think Arbor Day Foundation, I think we think of the little trees that are sent to us. In fact, I have people all the time, when I go to their gardens, they'll point out a tree to me and say, "That was sent to me by the Arbor Day Foundation. It was only this big, and look at it now." Talk a little bit about the history of the Arbor Day Foundation.

Dan: I love those stories, and we hear those all the time. The Arbor Day Foundation was founded in 1972, on the 100th anniversary of the very first Arbor Day. Our mission is very simple, and that is that we inspire people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees, and one of the big ways we do that is through our members. We have about 800,000 members around the country, and many of those members join us because they're just tree lovers, and they love to get their trees that we send to them, and plant them, and care for them. It's a great place to work. It's an exciting, positive mission to be a part of. We're proud of what we do at the Arbor Day Foundation.

Doug: Talk about some of the programs. I know there are a long list of great programs that the foundation is part of.

Dan: In the Arbor Day Foundation, we advance our work and our mission through our programs and our partnerships. Many of our programs are focused on celebrating the behavior, shining a spotlight on cities, or electric utilities, or college campuses that are doing the right thing to care for trees and manage their tree resources.

One of our longest-running and highest impact program is our Tree City USA. Since 1976, we've been celebrating cities and towns that meet core standards of tree care and tree management. Today, we recognize more than 3,600 cities and towns all around the country, who are Tree City USA communities helping to advance healthy, thriving, resilient communities, through tree planting. It's a cool program.

The largest Tree City USA is New York City, and the smallest is Sibley, North Dakota, with just over 20 people, and everything in between-- one of the coolest things about the program is that it fits any size city, and New York takes it every bit as serious as Sibley does.

Doug: Wow. How about for regular gardeners in their landscape, what do you feel they can do?

Dan: The Arbor Day Foundation, again, our mission is we inspire people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees. What that means to us is we want to lower the barrier of entry for anybody to be able to plant trees. We do that through our low-cost membership program. We do that through providing just quality information on our website at, about what to plant, where to plant, how to plant, to make sure people have the best success when they're investing their time, and land, and money into tree planting.

There's all kinds of ways people can engage in our mission and make a difference in their own communities by planting a tree, and we really encourage people to do that. Whether they go to their local nurseries, find the right tree for their community, the right tree for the benefit that they're seeking, whether it's shade for their home, whether it's a beautiful flowering tree for the spring or wonderful fall color in the autumn, people plant for all kinds of reasons. What we want to make sure of is that when they're planting, that they're going to have success, and that those trees are going to create benefits for everybody in years to come.

Doug: I think anybody that's listening to this podcast understands how positive trees can be, but there is a certain urgency for planting, right?

Dan: Absolutely. We are seeing more pressures on our forest today, in cities and towns, and in natural forest lands than we've ever seen before. You've all read about the historic fires, burning not just across California but elsewhere around the US and the world. We've seen increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters that are damaging and destroying millions of trees. We have excessive temperatures, literally changing the pallet of trees that we're able to plant and nurture in our communities.

All of these things, and more, are putting pressures on our forest and pressures on people, and that is why at the Arbor Day Foundation, we say, "If ever there was a time to be planting trees, now is that time. If ever there was a moment for everybody to engage in planting, funding, caring for their trees, now is that time because trees just do so much for us."

We've never seen more attention and demand for tree planting than we are today. We see it from the United Nations, from the US government, from corporate partners, from individuals, it's one of those things that everybody can agree on. It's maybe the only thing everybody can agree on is planting trees, and we're excited to have great partners that help us get it done across the US and around the world.

Doug: In your job, when you see a natural disaster that involves trees-- I mean, it affects us when we see it on the news, but I'm assuming it affects you differently when you see that.

Dan: When we see a tornado sweeping through a community or a region, or these forest fires, or hurricanes, and flooding, when disasters happen, our phone starts ringing. People expect the Arbor Day Foundation to be a part of helping to restore those communities and those forests, and we do it. We are thrilled with the program we have called the Community Tree Recovery program. What that program aims to do is help communities that have lost tree canopy restore the hope, the green space, the healing, and the benefits that those trees provide.

I remember a couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to go down to Panama City, Florida, a year after Hurricane Michael had swept through and just devastated the panhandle of Florida, and we were distributing trees as a part of our Community Tree Recovery program with the Florida Forest Service and other local leaders. We started handing out trees at 9:00 AM. By 7:00 AM, there were already about 200 people lined up. They couldn't wait to get a tree. They couldn't wait to bring literally that hope and life back to their neighborhoods, those landmarks that they'd lost.

It's an exciting program. It's making a difference in the emotions and the tree canopy of these communities. It's one of the things we're lucky to do at the Arbor Day Foundation.

Doug: How did you find your way to this job, and why is it important for you to be part of this?

Dan: I grew up in Nebraska. Arbor Day was founded in Nebraska, so it's kind of in my blood, it's in the history of our state. I grew up with a mother who had a tree planter ethic, for sure. We planted a lot of trees. Oh my gosh, does my mom loves trees. She knows trees better than I do, for sure. I picked up that tree planter ethic from her. I've made a career out of nonprofit work, working in program development, in relationship management.

When I had an opportunity to come to the Arbor Day Foundation and see the positive, just solution-oriented approach that the foundation takes, it was a no-brainer. What's really cool about it is we get to work with other tree-care professionals and advocates for trees, all around the world, and it's a pretty great job.

Doug: Are you under pressure at home to have the best-looking trees in the neighborhood? [laughs]

Dan: No one expects me. I do not have what you would call a "green thumb". My trees do okay. I'm not good with most everything else, but I will tell you, my neighbors pay particularly close attention to my trees and give me a hard time anytime they see something going wrong with them. It's not helpful. I need to put higher fences up or something.

Doug: [chuckles] Let's talk about some more of the programs coming out of the Arbor Day Foundation like Team trees. What is that?

Dan: Team trees is an exciting campaign that the Arbor Day Foundation has been involved in with some really impressive YouTube influencers. There was about a year and a half ago, we were contacted by Mr. Beast, who has about 40 million YouTube followers and some of his friends who wanted to do something big. They wanted to help plant 20 million trees. We partnered with them to create the Team Trees campaign on YouTube. More than 600 YouTube influencers helped participate and inspire their followers to help support this campaign. Within 56 days, we've raised more than $20 million to plant more than 20 million trees on every continent around the world, not named Antarctica.

We had more than 800,000 donors in 56 days, and it was this great example of a viral campaign to do good. It was children, it was their parents, and their grandparents all stepping up to do something in a positive way. The Arbor Day Foundation was thrilled to be part of it and we still see that Team Trees campaign growing. Every day, we're seeing about another $7,000 come in from people all around the world who want to be a part of tree planting.

Doug O: I guess the thing that's really exciting about it for me, is the young people. This is where I heard about it, from seventh eighth-grade or age people. I'm like, "You're talking about trees? This is great."

Dan: It was fascinating. In fact, my wife's a fifth-grade teacher and without her even bringing it up in our classroom, she heard her students talking about Mr. Beast and planting trees. It was exciting to be a part of this viral campaign. We are still moving forward with it. It is an exciting way to engage a new generation of tree planters, but it's also been really fascinating to see how intuitive it is for youth to understand that trees are good, and that we've got to do something positive.

Doug: We mentioned all the different countries talk about what the Arbor Day Foundation is doing internationally.

Dan: The Arbor Day Foundation has programs, partnerships, and projects in 44 countries around the world today. Those are forest restoration programs and critical natural forest lands. It's creating urban and community forestry projects and planting projects. We have expanded our Tree City USA program to a Brand New Tree Cities of the World Recognition program in partnership with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, where we're helping to boost and create common standards and common language around urban and community forestry.

We're just recognized our second year of the tree cities the world program, and we are proud to recognize 120 different cities from more than 25 countries all around the world who want to be a part of creating a global network of urban forestry leaders and champions as we're helping to create healthier, more resilient cities through trees. What we're also finding in our global programs is that our partners, our global partners. The corporations we work with, the individuals who support us, they know that the problems we're facing are not US problems alone. They want us to be helping to solve these problems on a global stage.

More and more, we're finding great partners to help us get trees in the ground to make a real difference around the world.

Doug: Talk a little bit about shade trees. What are you guys doing with shade trees?

Dan: You don't have to be a scientist to know that on a hot summer's day, it feels better to sit under a shade tree than to sit out in the middle of the sun. The same thing goes for our homes. We've been working aggressively with electric utility companies all around the country to help provide shade trees to their customers, to shade their homes and reduce their energy consumption and help make a difference, and reduce their cost. We've been excited to partner in this program with Davey Tree, US Forest Service was instrumental in helping to get this program off the ground.

We've helped to distribute more than 300,000 trees around the country to homeowners who are planting trees, shading their homes, and transforming tree canopy in neighborhoods and towns all around the country while reducing energy consumption, and fossil fuel usage.

Doug: What about Tree Campus Health Care?

Dan: Tree Campus Health care is one of our newer programs that we could not be more excited about. More and more research is coming out that talks about the benefits and connections between trees and human health. The Tree Campus Health Care Program is a recognition program for hospitals and health care facilities who meet core standards of tree planting and care on their campuses, but also tree planting and engagement in their communities. It is a great way for hospitals health care facilities to engage and create healthier communities for the patients they serve.

We launched this program a couple of years ago, Davey Tree is our program sponsor. We have more than 30 different hospitals and health care facilities around the country engaging in this program like the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, who has really helped us invent this program, and has been taking a real leadership role not just in planting trees on their campus, but in the neighborhoods and the communities they serve. We think there's going to be a transformational program that is going to help to grow increased attention and awareness to the value of trees, not just the beauty of trees.

Doug Oster: Well, Arbor Day has to be a pretty special day in your world, Dan?

Dan: It is, indeed. It's pretty much Arbor Day all year long for us anymore, but of course, National Arbor Day is the last Friday in April. This year, it's April 30th. We are excited to be helping, to support and give ideas for people to how to celebrate in a COVID safe way. Anyone who goes to celebrate can find information about tree planting opportunities, creative ideas, and ways that they can engage help celebrate this important holiday, whether it's through social media posting, sharing pictures, or actually getting their hands dirty and planting a tree.

Arbor Day is one of those unique holidays that doesn't just celebrate the past but celebrates the future and the impact of the trees we're planted today, and what they're going to do for years to come.

Doug Oster: Well, I can't think of a better place to leave it, was right there, Dan. That's great. I think that we're going to have to send a crew from Davey over to your house there to kind of work on those trees though, so that you have the best trees in the neighborhood.

Dan: Please. Please.

Doug Oster: All right, Dan. Thanks again for your time.

Dan: You bet. Thanks a lot.

Doug Oster: Tune in every Thursday to the Talking Trees podcast from the Davey Tree Expert Company, I'm your host, Doug Oster. Next week, we've got a special treat for you, everything you need to know about pruning, spring-flowering trees, and shrubs to get the job done the right way. Now don't forget to email podcasts, that's plural, for your free tree seeds as part of the Davey Planting project. That's podcasts, P-O-D-C-A-S-T-S@davey,, Don't delay, you've only got until April 30th, and then we'll send the seeds right back to you. As always, we like to remind you on the Talking Trees podcast, trees are the answer.


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