TREEage is a Master Gardener, S.O.U.L. Tree Steward and GE Volunteer project with a mission to promote best maintenance practices for urban trees. Over the past four years, TREEage has worked with hundreds of volunteers and together, has learned to properly prune and train young trees, inspect and correct stem girdling root defects, perform visual surveys for invasive forest pests, host Arbor Day programs with Middle School students and much more.
When I reflecting on the accomplishment of project TREEage, a special “tree hero” must be credited. Craig Lambert is the City Arborist in South Burlington. From the very beginning, he has worked to plan a project that is reasonable, sustainable, scalable and most of all, valuable. He has trusted TREEage with his young city trees in parks, school grounds and along city streets. He has given project TREEage a chance to thrive.
South Burlington is a large city with thousands of trees. Craig doesn’t have a staff of people to delegate the duties required of his office, so to say that his days are “crazy busy” is an understatement. He is a quiet leader who somehow finds the time to help teach through hands-on work, without pressure to go beyond comfort levels, yet he knows when to challenge trainees to embrace advanced tree maintenance techniques. He patiently and kindly educates others. Among many things, he would say “focus on the basics.” TREEage's motto exemplifies his words and helps us all to stay grounded while “.. making a difference in our community .. one tree at a time .. “
During TREEage's 2008 planning meeting, Craig supported the idea to start a nursery. He worked with the city to find a great location and that spring we started the TREEage Community Nursery with 30 little trees. By 2011 the nursery hit at capacity with 200 +/- trees and plans to learn about tree propagation in the TREEonatal section! South Burlington now has a new Arbor Day tradition to plant trees at the nursery with the Middle School students and community members. These are some of the many opportunities to educate people of all ages, engage hundreds of volunteers and create a legacy in South Burlington with financial, ecological and aesthetic benefits for all to enjoy.
Clearly, it would not have been possible for project TREEage to grow without Craig’s support and guidance. He’s always willing to meet with volunteers to lead pruning clinics, spend Saturday mornings to promote Forest Pest Workshops or lead site walks on park trails with interested groups. Craig is a mentor and helps others to gain confidence to follow their passions of tree stewardship.
With South Burlington's Natural Resources Committee, Craig helped to established a Tree Ordinance for the city and worked toward establishing a Management Plan for a very diverse, 100 acre parcel of city land. In 2009, South Burlington qualified and was awarded the designation of Tree City USA, another testament to Craig's leadership and commitment.