(re)Celebrating the 2020 Tree Champions

As we excitedly prepared for Root Ball in early 2020, who knew that within weeks the world would suddenly change? Due to the public safety precautions put into place in Atlanta and across the country, we made the prudent decision to cancel Root Ball last year. Although we were unable to gather together, we still celebrated our 2020 Tree Champions from afar. We were able to visit each Tree Champion and give them their awards while keeping safely distanced and masked.

This year, as we prepare to host the 2021 Root Ball, we want to (re)celebrate our 2020 Tree Champions. We hope you’ll join us at this year’s Root Ball being hosted virtually on May 27, 2021 when we’ll honor both the 2020 and 2021 Tree Champions.

Congratulations to our incredible Tree Champions!


Mailchimp Corporate Tree Champion

Corporate: Mailchimp

Mailchimp has been a dedicated Trees Atlanta partner since 2014. The company supports us financially, through our participation in the Mailchimp Gives professional development workshops and through the hard work of its associates who participate in multiple volunteer events every year. The company has been particularly helpful in supporting our maintenance efforts along the eastside Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum, which runs adjacent their offices at Ponce City Market.  In 2020, we were grateful to receive their largest ever donation and we look forward to working alongside them to beautify Atlanta neighborhoods for years to come.


Individual Tree Champion John MacFarland

Individual: John MacFarland

John MacFarland has been an avid volunteer of and friend to Trees Atlanta  for over 25 years. Throughout his tenure, he’s planted hundreds, if not thousands of trees, but he has a more famous claim to fame in or organizational lore. He and his wife Elizabeth are the first married couple to come about through initially meeting at a planting project (more would follow). More recently, John has been assisting us plan our future headquarters in the Oakland City neighborhood. His dedication to the project has been formidable and his expertise has been invaluable. John has been an vital piece in our efforts to deliver a state-of-the-art facility for the future of our organization and the communities it will serve.


Neighborhood Tree Champion Sherwood Forest

Neighborhood: Sherwood Forest

Residents of Sherwood Forest don’t take their neighborhood’s namesake lightly. In fact, residents are deeply committed not only to planting new trees throughout the neighborhood, but also to preserving the trees that already shade Sherwood Forests’ wide streets. Neighbors worked with our Data team to map the existing canopy, cataloging trees so to better track and understand the tree coverage in the neighborhood. From there, residents partnered with the NeighborWoods team to organize a neighborhood-wide yard tree planting project, during which tens of canopy trees were planted in homeowners’ front and backyards. Sherwood Forest is a neighborhood of passionate canopy advocates and tree lovers, dedicated not only to their slice of Atlanta’s urban forest, but to the preservation of our City in the Forest at large.


Organization Tree Champion Georgia Audubon

Community: Georgia Audubon

For decades, Georgia Audubon (formerly, Atlanta Audubon Society) have been one of our most integral and celebrated partners. Not only do our goals and missions align, but our efforts often coalesce on projects, leading to a more diverse impact on our urban forest and an increased exposure for both organizations. This year alone, Georgia Audubon partnered with Trees Atlanta to: help establish the Plants for Birds program, Place wildlife cameras along the Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum, and by installing bird-safe film on Trees Atlanta’s Kendeda Center through the Project Safe Flight grant.


Volunteer Tree Champion Bill Pardue

Volunteer: Bill Pardue

Bill Pardue is not just our most active volunteer this past year, he’s been our most active volunteer just about every year since 1999 when he first started volunteering. Bill’s love for trees and Trees Atlanta is evident in multiple ways including: through his sweat poured out during long hours of planting, pruning, and mulching; and through the time he spends keeping up with his fellow volunteers. Bill is the glue that holds the early generation of TA volunteers together and he’s the friendly face welcoming and training new volunteers. He’s the true tree-lover we all aspire to be.


Each year since 2014, Trees Atlanta has recognized organizations and individuals in five categories as our annual Tree Champion award winners. Our winners have demonstrated extraordinary contributions to Trees Atlanta’s success, sometimes for their efforts during the most recent year but more often for contributions made over a multi-year period. Contributions are typically a combination that may include volunteer service or volunteer coordination, community-based advocacy, partnerships supporting our education or other programming, financial support, and general leadership that has resulted in more trees being conserved or planted because of their efforts. We have many more people and organizations to thank than we can do in a single year, but our Tree Champions represent the best of our partners throughout the metro Atlanta community.



Special thanks to Colton Wheatley for crafting this year’s Tree Champion awards! You can find more of Colton’s work on his website or on Instagram @ar3_studio.

Root Ball awards