Transformation of a Tree Steward

Of course, you would ask, “What is a tree steward?” During the day and on occasional weekends he is a local, long-time pediatrician. In the evenings and on other weekends, he is a mentor, husband, friend, father, Care Team member, bike rider, faithful Habitat for Humanity volunteer and much more! By now, you probably have an idea I’m referring to Randy Stoesz. And, you would be right!

Randy, graciously and humbly, allowed me to converse with him for an hour and a half recently so I could learn from him how and why he became interested in helping FMC take better care of our trees (a.k.a. transform our trees).

Randy has done woodworking projects for many years and, as noted above, has helped on many Habitat builds. Of course, these use wood from trees. But his interest in trees, per se, began when he and his family lived on a property in NW Marion County which had a lot of trees. In a way, this property was similar to FMC’s grounds—some areas were fields with a few trees, some areas had buildings with adjacent trees, and some areas were densely forested. Many of these trees had problems. If the trees were going to do well, their caretaker, or their “steward,” needed to learn more about them.

Thus, Randy took the Indiana Community Tree Steward course offered thru the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. This program emphasizes urban forestry topics, with a subset listed here.

  • Benefits of the Urban Forest
  • Identifying Tree Defects and Risk Awareness
  • Pruning Do’s and Don’ts
  • Diagnosing Tree Problems

After the curriculum is completed, a written exam is taken (and passed) and community volunteer work hours must be completed.

All of this training, mentoring and practice has allowed Randy to gain experiences which, in turn, he has been using to benefit First Mennonite, the FMC neighborhood, his home neighborhood and other areas in town. 

Trees provide a lot of benefits to us and to those around us:

  • provide shade
  • absorb CO2
  • provide shelter for birds and other animals
  • keep temperatures at more modest levels
  • provide superb scenic views
  • lessen costs, time and impact of mowing

Trees also need attention and care, including:

  • which varieties are planted
  • how and where they are planted
  • how much and how often they are watered
  • regular inspections
  • how and when they are pruned and trimmed
  • how they are mulched

There are many practices that harm a tree, including surrounding it with pavers or bricks and the famous “volcano” method of mulching, as you can see from this photo.

For more information, click on this link

After reading this article, perhaps, take a 5 minute stroll around 46th Street and Knollton Road and make some observations. Which trees appear healthy? What species of trees appear healthy? Where are these healthy trees located? Which trees look like they are struggling? Why do they seem to be struggling? Do you see trees which have been pruned or trimmed?

Randy has been invested in lessening the negative impact of humans on this one and only Earth by riding his bike to work often, driving an electric car, and being a part of the recent solar energy project at FMC. Rounding this off by becoming trained as a Tree Steward and putting that training to work seems like a natural fit. We are all the beneficiaries of these efforts. Thank you, Randy, for continuing to be transformed, while also learning how to transform trees!

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About the author

Robin Helmuth

Robin enjoyed eating Maine blueberry ice cream while visiting Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park with Deb in July! REALLY good!

Robin will be joining the diverse and equally dubious group of totally retired individuals on September 10th, after 33 years as a Pathologist and Laboratory Medical Director. He will continue enjoying hiking with Deb, absorbing the wisdom of his mom, and being present for his children, their spouses and his granddaughters, while fitting in biking and home repair projects.

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