Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
Jessica A. Chittenden

April 24, 2009

First Lady Michelle Paige Paterson Joins State, Local And Green Industry Officials For Annual Arbor Day Celebration

Ceremony Includes Tree Planting, Presentation of Awards and Unveiling of Arbor Day’s Annual Poster

First Lady Michelle Paige Paterson today joined with elected officials and leaders of New York’s “green industry” to celebrate Arbor Day at the West Capitol Park in Albany. To encourage the appreciation and awareness of trees, this year’s Arbor Day celebration includes a ceremonial tree planting, the presentation of awards for service and design in the green industry, and the unveiling of the annual Arbor Day poster. This year, a Greenspire Linden tree was planted in Albany’s West Capitol Park to replace a fallen tree. West Capitol Park is lined with Greenspire Linden trees and serves as a popular common area for State employees and visitors to Albany.

“Arbor Day is an opportunity to engage with our natural environment and remember how much of an impact we can have,” said First Lady Michelle Paige Paterson. “With some care and attention, the tree we planted today at West Capitol Park, and the two new trees we will add to the Executive Mansion Arboretum in honor of Arbor Day, will improve our quality of life for generations. Whether planting a tree in your own yard or helping to care for other trees such as those in your local community, I encourage all New Yorkers to join with me in participating in Arbor Day across the State.”

New York State Deputy Secretary of the Environment Judith Enck said: “Trees are phenomenal natural resources that capture air pollutants, reduce erosion and runoff, provide habitat for birds and make our communities more beautiful and livable. Tree planting improves the quality of life in our cities and in our forests and provides much needed jobs in the forest product industry. Arbor Day is a great time to focus on the need to protect our forests and to plant more trees.”

A focus of the celebration was on New York State’s “green industry,” which encompasses those who are involved in the day-to-day greening of our communities, including nurseries and garden centers, landscapers and horticulturists, as well as parks, schools and communities. Numerous awards were presented today both to professionals and children for their exceptional service and design in the green industry. These individuals were recognized for their artwork in depicting what Arbor Day means to them.

In addition to the tree planting and presentation of awards, Arbor Day has adopted an annual tradition of unveiling an Arbor Day poster. This year’s poster was a photograph taken by Sabrina Buttitta of Rocky Point, Suffolk County and features a skyward view of red maple trees in Caleb Smith State Park Preserve. The paper for the poster was donated by International Paper and produced from trees vested in working Adirondack forests managed in accordance with principals of the Sustainable Forest Initiative at its Ticonderoga Mill.

New York State Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Patrick Hooker said: “First recognized in the Midwest as a way to encourage farmers to plant trees on what was then treeless plains, Arbor Day today in New York State allows us to recognize how fortunate we are to have such a wealth of healthy trees and forests. Take time this spring to acknowledge all the positive attributes trees provide and show your appreciation by planting a new one.”

New York State Commissioner of Environmental Conservation Peter Grannis said: “On Arbor Day, we stop to celebrate how much trees do for our environment and well-being, including processing pollution, lowering temperatures and raising property values. Under Governor Paterson, the State has worked to maintain ‘certified green’ forests on State lands and has helped nurture ‘urban forests’ in our cities, towns and villages across New York. The trees being planted today will be a lasting legacy for the benefit of future generations.”

Assemblyman John J. McEneny said: “How appropriate that this years’ traditional Arbor Day tree planting by our First Lady is accompanied by Leed Gold certification status of the Governors Mansion. It is good to see New York continue to demonstrate outstanding leadership and commitment to the environment.”

Albany County Executive Michael G. Breslin said: “Mankind has done unbelievable damage to the earth, and continues to do more each day. Arbor Day should be a day of reflection – that we might become more cognizant of the damage we inflict on the earth each day and resolve to preserve the earth and protect our environment. Arbor Day should also be a day of action. What better action than planting a tree.”

Mayor Gerald D. Jennings said: “Today, as we come together to celebrate Arbor Day and pledge to help improve our community and our environment, we recognize the impact that trees have on our urban landscape – both aesthetically and environmentally,” said Mayor Jennings. “I am honored to be a part of today’s Arbor Day festivities, and I know that together, with the simple effort of planting trees, we can continue to improve the landscape of our communities and the quality of life for residents both in the City of Albany and across New York State.”

New York State Commissioner of General Services John C. Egan said: “OGS is pleased to join the First Lady and Commissioner Hooker to participate in today’s celebration of Arbor Day, which has become an annual highlight. We take great pride in the work that the OGS team does to make this an outdoor gathering place for visitors and State employees alike.”

Donna W. Moramarco, CNLP, President of the New York State Nursery & Landscapers Association said: “Our association celebrates Arbor Day by celebrating our member professionals. It’s fitting that today we publicly recognize our members that have made responsible and beautifying environmental contributions to the landscapes across New York State.”

New York State Arborist President Kevin S. Kenney said: “The New York State Arborists are always happy to be planting trees but especially on Arbor Day as it is a time to remind us annually to focus on all they provide our world and New York in particular. In this time of green collar jobs we can think of no better way to stimulate the economy and the environment than planting a tree.”

Arbor Day is a nationally celebrated observance that encourages tree planting and tree care and highlights the importance of trees to our environment, our economy and our quality of life. Founded by J. Sterling Morton in Nebraska in 1872, National Arbor Day is celebrated each year on the last Friday in April.

Arbor Day in New York State is coordinated by the Arbor Day Committee, made up of representatives from the New York State Departments of Agriculture and Markets and Environmental Conservation, New York State Nursery Landscape Association, New York State Arborists and the Empire State Forest Products Association.

Later today, First Lady Paterson will plant two trees at the Executive Mansion. The first, a pine tree, will be planted as a symbol of friendship between New York State and the People’s Republic of China. After the devastating 2008 earthquake in the Sichuan Province of China, Governor Paterson and the State University of New York (SUNY) welcomed 150 university students from the Sichuan Province to study at 22 campuses of the University free of charge for an entire year. Many of those students will join the First Lady for the tree planting.

The second tree, a chestnut tree, will be planted in remembrance of New York State’s 22nd Governor, Reuben Fenton. Governor Fenton, who served from 1865 to 1868, dedicated much of his work while in public office to the assistance of military veterans, and his administration played an integral role in establishing free public education. His educational legacy extended to the founding of the State’s first land grant institution, Cornell University’s School of Agriculture.

2009 Arbor Day award recipients include:

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Arbor Day Poster Contest

    • Joey Rocchio, a 5th grader at Maple Hill Middle School in Rensselaer County under the direction of his art education teacher, Mrs. Janel Gregoire, won with his poster that depicted the theme “Trees are Terrific in Cities and Towns.” His poster was reproduced as posters and on bookmarks, which will be distributed to schools across New York State to educate children on the importance of Arbor Day.

New York State Arborists’ Gold Leaf Award

    • Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park and Coe Hall in Oyster Bay, Nassau County for its outstanding Arbor Day activities

New York State Nursery & Landscape Association’s Environmental Beautification Awards

    • Frank Ciardullo of Frank Ciardullo Landscapes & Designs in Locust Valley, Nassau County won for Residential Landscapes costing over $100,000
    • Owen Brothers Landscape Design in Baiting Hollow, Suffolk County won for Residential Landscapes costing over $100,000
    • Schlick Design Group in Greenlawn, Suffolk County won Residential Landscapes costing $50,000 to $100,000
    • James Sollecito of Sollecito Landscaping Nursery LLC in Syracuse, Onondaga County won for Residential Landscapes costing $25,000 to $50,000
    • Steve Beattie of Dr. Green Lawn/Custom Turf in Salamanca, Cattaragus County won for Commercial Landscape for $25,000 to $50,000
    • Melissa Daniels and Anthony Caggiano of Plant Connection Inc. in Aquebogue, Suffolk County won for Unique and Unusual Landscapes costing more than $6,000
    • Jerry Parmenter of Elemental Landscapes, Inc. in Voorheesville, Albany County won for Garden Structures and Pavements, costing $10,000 to $25,000
    • Luke Kreye of Emil Kreye and Son, Inc. in Hempstead, Nassau County won for Unique Use of Water, Unlimited as well as Garden Structures and Pavements, costing over $25,000
    • Heinrich Fischer of Sundown Designs NY in Fairport, Monroe County won for Night-Lighting Unlimited
    • Steven Dubner of Steven Dubner Landscaping Inc. in Dix Hills, Suffolk County won for Unique or Unusual, costing more than $6,000

2009 Press Releases