tree wardens

Ricard Receives Provost Award in Public Engagement

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Bob Ricard with Jonathan the Husky at UConn. Photo: Kevin Noonan.

UConn Extension is pleased to announce that Dr. Robert M. Ricard, Senior Extension Educator; has been selected by UConn for the Provost’s Award for Excellence in Public Engagement in the Non-Tenure Track Faculty category.

Bob has acquired a distinguished state, regional, and national reputation for his scholarship, teaching (formal and informal), and service. All three elements contribute to his excellence in public engagement.

One example of his public engagement is his Tree Warden Program. Bob began working for UConn Extension in 1991 and immediately conducted a statewide needs assessment of urban forestry that included all Connecticut cities and towns with tree wardens and chief elected officials as the specific target audience. Bob discovered that the vast majority of Connecticut communities were not prepared to deal with their responsibility of caring for their public trees. Such care includes protecting the public from high-risk trees. As a result of this, Bob initiated several programs to different target audiences. For example, his tree warden program was developed and incorporated as a 501(c)(3). A volunteer board of directors that Bob guides governs the Tree Wardens’ Association of Connecticut, Inc. The organization is approaching its 25th anniversary demonstrating it will survive past Bob’s professional career.

In collaboration with this organization, Bob created the Tree Wardens School and Certification Program. The 1991 needs assessment pointed out tree wardens had little to no qualifications for performing their duties. To date, 350 people have gone through this voluntary program, and in 2013, the Connecticut General Assembly passed a law requiring all 169 cities and towns to have a qualified tree warden (or deputy tree warden) by attending and passing this school program. Bob has published three refereed, peer-reviewed articles assessing the 25 years of his tree warden program outcomes and impacts. He is currently surveying tree wardens and deputy tree wardens to obtain 25-year data and comparing the state of Connecticut urban forestry since he started in 1991.

This is just one example of the work Bob has done with UConn Extension throughout his career. His work fits well UConn’s commitment to Public Engagement to provide for the needs of Connecticut citizens while meeting university needs to attain world-class standards. Award recipients will be recognized at the Excellence in Public Engagement Reception on Thursday, November 5th at the Jorgensen Center for Performing Arts on the UConn-Storrs campus.

For more information on UConn Extension, please visit

Tree Warden Banquet

tree wardens

The Tree Warden’s Association of CT held their 23rd Annual Meeting and Dinner on March 26, 2015. The speaker was Colleen Murphy-Dunning who is Program Director at the Hixon Center for Urban Ecology at Yale (Partnerships for Improved Urban Forest management Presentation). Roy Cavanaugh, Watertown Public Works Director, received an award for his work with the TW Association, the Town Council Chairman Tom Winn, and Roy Cavanaugh’s family were present. UConn Extension‘s Bob Ricard is an active part of the Tree Warden’s Association.

CT Tree Warden’s Association

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A CT Tree Warden tests for the existence of trunk decay in a red oak tree.

– Article by Bob Ricard for UConn Extension

Approximately 85 tree wardens, deputy tree wardens, urban forestry volunteers, and others gathered in Glastonbury, March 20th, for the Tree Wardens’ Association of Connecticut, Inc., 22nd Annual Dinner Meeting. The primary purpose of the meeting was to conduct the business of the state-wide organization, founded in 1992 by UConn Extension Senior Extension Educator, Bob Ricard. A secondary, but increasingly important purpose was the exchange of information between tree wardens, utility vegetation managers, CT-DEEP foresters, UConn faculty, CT Ag Experiment Station scientists, and others.

The increased interaction of parties affecting community trees has been a hallmark of the organization since its founding. The improved communication stream has the intent of better mitigating any potential conflict and overlap between the various urban forestry actors. In addition, the increased professional contact has provided a means to improve organizational relations.

Seventeen graduates of the 2013 Tree Warden School conducted by Ricard in cooperation with the Association were presented with certificates. Ken Placko, tree warden and community forester for the town of Fairfield, was presented with the Outstanding Tree Warden Award. Utility arborists presented updates on current vegetation management procedures in the electrical right-of-ways.

The 2014 Tree Warden School will be held this fall, September 11, 18, 25 and October 2, 16, 23. More details can be found on the UConn CLEAR website’s tree wardens‘ section. Access the 2014 application form now.

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Students participating in a tree risk assessment class at the Tree Warden School.