Lauren Barker, Keep Denton Beautiful – Multiple tree programs/projects
Currently celebrating its 30th Anniversary, Keep Denton Beautiful, Inc. (KDB) has worked to established itself as one of Denton’s key resources for tree planting and community tree programs. Over the years, KDB has focused heavily on providing free tree planting resources, and educating the community about the importance of trees – not just for community beautification, but for improving Denton’s overall health and quality of life. KDB is one of the most “tree focused” Keep Texas Beautiful affiliates in the state. This is mostly due to Executive Director Lauren Barker who’s passion for trees and community forestry has lead KDB to be one of the states non-profit leaders in community forestry. Under Lauren direction KDB has accomplished the following in the past few years.
In the last 10 years alone, KDB community forestry programs have helped plant and distribute an estimated 31,000 trees throughout Denton. KDB’s longest-running tree programs, such as the Community Tree Giveaway – which gives away around 700 free trees per year to Denton residents – and the Denton Redbud Festival, Denton’s official Arbor Day celebration, demonstrate the organization’s ongoing commitment to nurturing and growing the community’s urban forest. KDB is responsible for re-certifying Denton through the Tree City USA Program, currently in its 26th year, and the community has also received the Arbor Day Growth Award for nine consecutive years.
In 2015, KDB worked to expand its role as a leader in community forestry by partnering with the City of Denton to introduce the Denton Tree Initiative, an ambitious campaign that aims to dramatically increase tree planting and tree education in the city over a period of three years. The six programs and projects that comprise the Denton Tree Initiative use the same grass-roots, volunteer-driven program model that Keep Denton Beautiful has so successfully implemented over its 30 years in the Denton community. The programs provide free trees, tree education, tree planting incentives, and other resources in exchange for a commitment from community members to do one simple thing: plant and care for a tree at home, at school, or at their place of work. In the first year and a half of the Denton Tree Initiative (fall 2015 to present), 424 new trees have been planted; programs have provided free tree education for 526 participants; and nearly 300 rebates have been issued for residents and businesses planting qualified trees. These numbers are in addition to the more than 2,000 free trees and numerous education opportunities KDB offers annually.
Most recently KDB partnered with the city forestry dept and Preservation tree to conduct an extremely in-depth iTree Eco analysis of the urban forest resource in the city. This monumental document has recently been published as “The State of the Denton Urban Forest” and will soon be available on the KDB website