Canopy Tree Awards

Each year, Canopy Tree Awards acknowledges individuals and organizations who have helped to grow and protect the urban forest:

  • Arnold Soforenko Awards recognize significant contributions to our local urban forest;
  • Out-on-a-Limb Awards are given for outstanding urban forestry volunteer efforts;
  • Young Forester Awards are presented to young persons who exemplify Canopy’s values of stewardship, education, and service;
  • The Canopy Chair Award is not awarded every year, but recognizes those who have gone above and beyond in their contributions to Canopy as an organization.  

2018 Canopy Tree Awards

Now accepting Soforenko Award Nominations. Submit yours today!


2017 Canopy Tree Award Recipients

Awardees pose with their commendations at Canopy’s 21st Annual Party, January 26, 2017.

Arnold Soforenko Awardees

Bol Park Pathway Committee, for investing in a beloved community asset, and for their instrumental role initiating a significant native tree planting along the Bol Park Bike Path.

The Bol Park Pathway Committee is dedicated to addressing some of their neighborhood’s needs, including initiating the planting of 105 trees along the Bol Park pathway this year. They saw many trees removed for development nearby, and saw to it that new trees were planted in order to shade, beautify, and benefit this popular trail (and the whole community) for many years to come.

For their commitment to community greening, Canopy is pleased to present the Bol Park Pathway Committee with the Arnold Soforenko Award.

Michelle Daher, for her dedication to East Palo Alto’s environment, quality of life, and community health, and for her enthusiastic and instrumental support of Canopy’s efforts to bring more trees to East Palo Alto.

Michelle’s job title at the City of East Palo Alto is Environmental Programs Management Analyst, but she is so much more than an analyst. Her personal focus and passion are to enhance the community’s health by protecting and improving the environment.

Many of East Palo Alto’s public health challenges stem from legacy environmental justice issues. Michelle’s goal is to address these through programs such as stormwater compliance, trash reduction, creating a bikeable and walkable community, and by restoring the lungs of the City. Michelle knows the vital role that a vibrant tree canopy plays in a community. For the last five years she has tirelessly supported Canopy’s staff and programs. She has provided communication, facilitation, and coordination for Canopy’s Parks and neighborhood tree plantings, and she successfully advocated for and made possible a service contract between Canopy and the City.

There is no question that Canopy’s impact in East Palo Alto would not be what it is today without Michelle’s unwaivering support. For her commitment to a resilient urban environment in East Palo Alto, Canopy is proud to present Michelle with an Arnold Soforenko Award.

Out-on-a-Limb Awardees

John Erving, for generously volunteering his time and landscape design expertise to help Canopy revitalize local parks through tree and understory plantings, including at Jack Farrell Park and Martin Luther King Park in East Palo Alto.

John ErvingJohn possesses all the attributes that make an excellent landscape designer. Like any professional artist, he has a solid grasp of form, color, and composition. He knows his plants, carefully selecting species according the conditions of the site and the goals of the design.

He also takes time to develop a vision for each project, listening to the desires and constraints of his client. In our case, he diligently incorporated feedback from Canopy staff and from our local partners.

We are eternally grateful to John and look forward to further partnership in the future. For graciously sharing his time and marvelous skills with Canopy, we are eager to present John with an Out-on-a-limb Award.

Dedra Hauser, for generously volunteering her time and expertise as a professional landscape designer, and for helping Canopy bring nature into neighborhoods through artful community plantings in East Palo Alto and Mountain View.

Canopy has been exceedingly fortunate to work with Dedra Hauser, an acclaimed landscape designer in our community, to create beautiful, resilient, functional, and lasting landscapes that will be enjoyed by residents for years to come.

In East Palo Alto, Dedra worked with Canopy and City staff to transform a barren strip of public right-of-way at a formerly dangerous intersection into a lush, soothing, and vibrant urban oasis.

Dedra has also volunteered for many years as a Canopy planting leader, guiding other volunteers with her friendly and engaging leadership style.

For offering her time and talent, and for her many years of supporting and growing urban nature, we are thrilled to honor Dedra with an Out-on-a-Limb award.


Romain Taniere and Luis Guzman, for their initiative, creativity, and dedication rejuvenating the Kavanaugh neighborhood through a groundbreaking day of tree planting and neighborhood-wide greening, and for demonstrating what’s possible when residents come together to steward their community.

Romain and Luis initially reached out to Canopy to ask if the City had plans to plant trees in the Kavanaugh neighborhood, explaining that many of their neighbors were interested in receiving new trees.

When they found out about the Branching Out program in East Palo Alto, they wasted no time galvanizing their neighbors for a day of tree planting and community greening. They created flyers to pique neighbors’ interest in receiving new trees. They went door-to-door recruiting tree stewards and inviting fellow residents to participate. They involved new partners, inviting diverse community groups to play a part through activities and information tables.

As Canopy’s partners in coordinating the Kavanaugh neighborhood planting, Romain and Luis went above and beyond the usual duties of a neighborhood tree champion, providing hands-on engagement and creative new ideas from start to finish.

They also set a new bar for neighborhood tree plantings, wrapping up the day with a five-star block party that gave residents a chance to celebrate and connect. For their dedication and enthusiasm, and for bringing the community together in this special way, Canopy is proud to present Romain and Luis with an Out-on-a-Limb award. 

Will Schulz and Ylem Rubio, for their tireless efforts, enthusiasm, and generosity organizing a large-scale neighborhood tree planting and block party in East Palo Alto’s University Village neighborhood, and for engaging the whole community to grow and steward the urban forest.

In September of 2015, when Canopy first launched the Branching Out initiative, Will reached out to Canopy to see about planting more trees in his area, East Palo Alto’s University Village neighborhood.

Throughout 2016, Will worked with Canopy staff to organize the largest neighborhood tree planting that Canopy has held to date. Will and his wife Ylem walked their neighborhood, notifying neighbors, signing them up to receive new trees, and generating excitement for the planting day. They also coordinated a community barbecue to follow the planting, even donating food and materials to ensure all the hungry tree planters were well fed.

Will is already working with Canopy on a follow-up planting to bring more trees to University Village. For his energy and can-do spirit, and for championing this large-scale project, Canopy is proud to present Will with an Out-on-a-Limb award.


Sharon Hudak, for ongoing service to her community as a dedicated Canopy planting leader, education leader, pruning corps member, event and outreach representative, master cookie baker, and overall volunteer extraordinaire.

Sharon started digging in as a volunteer with Canopy about two years ago, and quickly became a shining volunteer all-star.

She took the Education Leader training and started helping out with Canopy’s classroom lessons. Then she started volunteering at events like the annual party and arbor day festival, offering to help with pre-event prep and important day-of tasks.

Not stopping there, she attended the planting leader training and pruning workshop, becoming a regular presence at Canopy tree plantings and tree care service days. As if that weren’t enough, she occasionally stops by the office with a plate of her incredible homemade cookies for the staff.

For her readiness to help her community, and for her incredible investment of time and talents to support Canopy’s mission, we are thrilled to present Sharon with an Out-on-a-Limb award.

Antoine Gaessler, for greening neighborhoods and engaging the community through his outstanding dedication and hard work as an exemplary Canopy planting leader.

antoine-midtownAs an avid admirer and steward of trees, Antoine first came to Canopy as a regular on neighborhood tree walks. He soon went on to become one of our hardest working and most supportive planting leaders.

Antoine is often the first planting leader to arrive at a planting and the last to leave, ensuring the last tool is loaded before he considers the job done. He often has great ideas to increase efficiency, and makes a point to start conversations with new volunteers.

Antoine consistently goes above and beyond, actively looking for ways to support others. His experience, positivity, and quiet leadership are an invaluable addition to any tree planting. With gratitude for all his hard work, Canopy is thrilled to recognize Antoine with an Out-on-a-Limb award.


Young Forester Awardees

Diamond Allen, for exemplary work representing Canopy, investing in his community, and inspiring those around him as a Teen Urban Forester.

Since his first day as a Teen Urban Forester (or TUF), Diamond set himself apart as an exemplary leader, hard worker, and ambassador for the TUF program.

Canopy staff and volunteers alike have enjoyed Diamond’s friendly and earnest demeanor, as well as his genuine care for the people and community around him.

Canopy as a whole has greatly benefited from Diamond’s willingness to help and teach others, and his aptitude in speaking on behalf of the organization.

For inspiring those around him and for dedicating his time to serve and steward his community, Canopy is pleased to present Diamond with the Young Forester Award.



Canopy Chair Awardee

We have not selected a Canopy Chair Awardee this year. See Past Tree Awards to read about previous awardees!

Canopy has been recognizing urban forest champions since 1996. Read about previous Canopy Tree Award recipients.