The city of Story City was recently honored with several awards, including the 2018 Tree City USA Growth Award at the 29th Annual Community Forestry Awards Luncheon in Des Moines. The award was presented by the Arbor Day Foundation and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources April 3rd at the Sheraton in West Des Moines.

“The Tree City USA award is a symbol for communities who have made a commitment to the management of public trees,” said state forester Jeff Goerndt. “Story City has provided an outstanding example for other Iowa communities by enhancing our forest resources and demonstrating the great value of trees in providing multiple benefits for future generations.”

Story City was one of 16 Iowa communities to qualify for Tree City USA Growth status. To receive the award, a city must, at a minimum, provide education and public relations, partnerships, planning and management, and tree planting and maintenance in their communities.

Story City Trees Forever also received the Outstanding Community Organization Award and was nominated for that recognition by state coordinator Leslie Berckes.

Additionally, the local Trees Forever was awarded the Tree City USA Award and was listed as a Tree City USA Recertifying Community.

“We really cleaned house on the awards available that we could possibly receive,” said Mike Jensen, Story City Trees Forever president.

Joe Lucas, John Moran, and Jensen were in attendance to represent the Story City Tree Board. Gini Michel, Caleb Michel, and Patsy Jensen represented the Story City Trees Forever Membership.

Story City Trees Forever started in 1993 and has made a significant impact on the community over the decades.

The value of the group’s 2018 plantings alone added a total of $18,396 worth of trees, care and maintenance to city. That figure includes the work of 69 volunteers, who gave 461 hours of time to complete the projects in 2018 alone.

This brings Story City to a total of 2,818 trees planted since 1993, adding a total value of $487,886 worth of tree planting projects in value coming back to the community.

“I just wanted to say that we were all very proud to be so honored for all the hard work, time and money put in to accomplish all our tree planting projects,” Jensen said. “It could not have been accomplished without the support, grant funds and matching funds from Black Hills Energy, the city of Story City, many volunteers, the Scouts, their parents and leaders. To all of them, we say, ‘Thank you. We look forward to working with all of you again in 2019 and beyond.’”

One person missing from the awards ceremony was a very big part of receiving the award, Jensen said. That person was Denny Michel, who served as vice president of Story City Trees Forever and was instrumental in the annual tree sale and tree plantings.

“You will be missed, Denny, but will always be a part of what we have accomplished with your smile and expertise working along our side,” Jensen said.