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LISLE, IL (May 23, 2013) – The Morton Arboretum, in partnership with the Alliance for Community Trees and Treetures® Environmental Education Program, is pleased to announce that three Chicago-area students are winners of a national essay contest, “What Did the Tree See?”   In recognition of their achievement, each student will be planting a tree in a ceremony at his or her school.  In this pilot year, the contest garnered nearly 100 essays and poems which were judged by a national panel of authors, and urban forest and environmental education experts.
Local winners include:
  • 5th grade student James Tews of Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic School in Winfield won 1st place
  • 6th grade student  Kyle Prochotsky of Hawthorne Middle School North in Vernon Hills won 2nd place
  • 5th Grade student Emma Cho of Pleasant Hill Elementary School in Winfield won 3rd place
First Place winners received $500 and will participate in a tree planting in their honor at their school or in the neighborhood. Second place winners received $250, and third place took home $100. All award winners and honorable mentions received an award plaque acknowledging their national accomplishment.
“This contest offered a unique opportunity for The Morton Arboretum to work with ACTrees and schools in our area to teach 5th and 6th grade students the value of urban trees and how they affect the neighborhood and the local environment,” said Beth Corrigan of the Morton Arboretum. 
Participants were part of a national pilot program in which ACTrees member organizations reached out to elementary schools in their state to encourage students to write about a tree in their community, its science, and history from the point of view of the tree. The essay contest will become an annual program for ACTrees through our partnership with Treetures®. The contest was sponsored by CSX.
Essay contest judges included nationally-recognized urban tree and tree care professionals and authors: Nina Bassuk Ph.D., Professor at Cornell University Horticulture Department/Program Leader of Urban Horticulture Institute, Ithaca, NY; Nanine Bilski, President/CEO and Founder of America the Beautiful Fund, Washington, DC; Cecily Kaiser, for Abrams Books Publishing Director, Abrams Appleseed, New York City, NY; Suzanne Presgrave, ACTrees Development Associate; Rita Schoeneman, Ph.D., RET U.S. Forest Service, Biology Professor at Ellsworth Community College, Iowa Falls, Iowa; and Audrey Bransfield, Student Judge, Sophomore Buckingham Browne and Nichols School, and award winning, published author, Newton, MA.
About The Morton Arboretum
The Morton Arboretum is an internationally recognized outdoor tree museum on 1,700 acres. Plant collections, scientific research and education programs support the mission to plant and conserve trees and other plants for a greener, healthier and more beautiful world. Throughout natural landscapes are specialty gardens, 16 miles of trails and nine miles of roads. Other offerings include tree-focused events, activities and services for adults, children, professionals and communities. The Arboretum welcomes more than 800,000 visitors annually and serves 34,000 member households. Located 25 miles west of Chicago in Lisle, Illinois, the Arboretum is open daily 7 a.m. until sunset. Learn more at www.mortonarb.org.
About Treetures
Treetures® Environmental Education Program (www.treetures.com) is a national environmental initiative dedicated to tree education. With their partners, Treetures® promotes activities and education centered on tree planting and care. The illustrated Treetures® family of characters, each representing a scientific concept, are used by teachers, parents, and communities to engage children in grades K-5.
About Alliance for Community Trees
Alliance for Community Trees (ACTrees) is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the health and livability of cities by planting and caring for trees. With over 200 member and partner organizations in 44 states and Canada, ACTrees engages volunteers to take action to improve the environment where 93% of people live: in cities, towns, and metropolitan areas. Together ACTrees member organizations have planted and cared for more than 15 million trees with help from over 5 million volunteers. Learn more about our mission at www.ACTrees.org.