Grants to Shade Tree Commission Fund Years of Growth

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Grants to Shade Tree Commission Fund Years of Growth

Trees have a positive effect on many aspects of people’s lives, including their health, homes, businesses, recreation, drinking water and air quality. The Elk County Community Foundation has supported the work of the City of St. Marys Shade Tree Commission by awarded grants totaling $9,950 over the years.

A grant of $2,500 from the Elk County Development Fund in 2006 helped the Shade Tree Commission enhance the beautiful surroundings at Memorial Park; a $2,200 grant in 2013 provided shade trees for city parks; and $2,750 was awarded for the Erie Avenue tree replacement project in 2014. A $2,500 grant from the Harrison & Muriel Dauer Stackpole Fund in 2008 was utilized by the Shade Tree Commission to expand their programs.

The City of St. Marys Shade Tree Commission (STC), in existence since 1995, is committed to the planting and maintenance of trees, as well as removal of failing trees in order to beautify the City of St. Marys, making it appealing to the residents and visitors while ensuring St. Marys remains green. The city earned the prestigious recognition of Tree City USA status in 2005. The STC is an all-volunteer group, with 5 members appointed to their positions by City Council. Current members are David Larkin, chairperson; Gail Shturtz, vice-chairperson;  Stephen Bagley, Cly Hornung; and Lisa Sorg. Toby Herzing from DCNR serves as a consultant to the group. Larkin stated, “The Shade Tree Commission members are committed to maintaining the trees that help beautify our city. There are hundreds of lovely trees along city streets and in our parks for the visual enjoyment of our residents. The trees are also beneficial for health purposes.”

According to Cly Hornung, committee member, the Shade Tree Commission maintains from 600-700 city trees. A city tree is defined as a tree between the curb and sidewalk, or those in city parks and designated public areas. The trees were originally inventoried and recorded using GPS tracking by a Penn State student for a graduate studies project. The STC committee updates the inventory yearly and takes an annual tour of the city.

One of the signature projects of STC is their involvement in providing education to elementary school students in St. Marys, normally on or around Arbor Day. Each year educational materials are distributed to all of the students to teach them the importance of trees. The STC alternates elementary schools yearly with a program that provides a special lesson about trees to 4th graders, who are then each given a sapling to plant at their own chosen location. The following year the same students, now 5th graders, gather to help plant a tree in their honor somewhere in the city during a special program in celebration of Arbor Day.

The Shade Tree Commission also plants trees purchased by family members in honor or in memory of loved ones. Families can participate in the planting, and a recognition sign is placed near the tree.

Funding trees for Shade Tree Commission efforts is just one of the ways the Elk County Community Foundation is helping our communities grow. Since it was first established 20 years ago, the Foundation has invested over 5 million dollars into growing our community resources by funding grants for worthy projects, and scholarships to help our students further their education.

Elk County Community Foundation is a tax-exempt charitable organization that provides grantmaking support for the needs of our local communities from funds that it maintains and administers on behalf of multiple donors. As a public charity, the Community Foundations also seeks support from the general public to help grow and maintain general community development funds. For more information visit their website at or call the office at 834.2125.

Photo: Eric Wolfe, ECCF Board member, Shade Tree members, Lisa Sorg, Cly Hornung, Gail Shturtz, David Larkin, and Tom Wagner, ECCF Board.