Missouri City couple wins the “Tree Advocate of the Year” award

Photo courtesy of Missouri City Tom and Regina Nichols (center and right) accepting the “Tree Advocate of the Year Award” from a member of the Houston Area Urban Forestry Council.

Photo courtesy of Missouri City
Tom and Regina Nichols (center and right) accepting the “Tree Advocate of the Year Award” from a member of the Houston Area Urban Forestry Council.

For years, Missouri City beautification projects have been a top city staff priority. From Parks and Recreation to Planning to GIS, staff has dedicated their time to providing Missouri City residents with the best and most inventive projects to make sure the city’s appearance is always the best it can be.

Many of these projects have fostered successful partnerships not only between departments but also with residents, many of whom have received recognition from across the state for their hard beautification work in Missouri City.

Recently, Missouri City residents Tom and Regina Nichols received the “Tree Advocate of the Year” Award from the Houston Area Urban Forestry Council.

The Missouri City “Tree Challenge” project was created in partnership with the Nichols Family of Quail Valley, who generously offered to match tree donations for up to 50 trees each year, at Missouri City Parks. Trees were planted at five city parks as part of the program since the beginning of the 2012 planting season.

This program was also awarded the winner of the Houston Galveston Area Council’s Parks & Natural Areas Awards in the Policy Tools category. The Mayor’s Youth Commission’s Parents Night Out event received special recognition in the same category as well.

“Tom and Regina Nichols have been the dream tree advocates for Missouri City since 2011. Being lovers of trees and parks, they have made many personal financial contributions specifically for planting trees in Missouri City Parks. These contributions have helped advance several Missouri City Forestry projects, including the Memorial Tree Program and Edible Arbor Trail,” said Missouri City Forester Paul Wierzbicki. “They are also the inspiration for the Missouri City Tree Challenge Program, in which the Nichols Family matches every tree purchased by other residents and civic organizations in Missouri City. The result has been 112 new trees planted in city parks over the last two years. No single family has made a greater contribution to Missouri City’s urban forest than the Nichols Family.”

Trees planted in the “challenge” average 6’-12’ tall at the time of planting. Missouri City Forester Paul Wierzbicki selects the appropriate species and location for each tree sponsored. For more information and to participate in the tree challenge, please download a Missouri City Tree Challenge Application.

“We’ve been residents of Missouri City for around 20 years and have always loved the parks here. We love the outdoors, and Missouri City Parks have always been special to us because of the wide variety of uses they provide residents,” Regina Nichols said. “There’s something for everyone here, from walking and biking trails to great soccer fields. We wanted to donate some trees, and after speaking with Paul Wierzbicki, we came up with this great idea for a challenge.”

The Parks and Natural Areas Awards are a competition sponsored by the Houston-Galveston Area Coalition that recognizes municipality projects.

“I love seeing all the young trees now planted as part of the challenge,” Nichols said. “Parks are forever, and trees are forever, so we’re happy to do our part to improve the appearance of Missouri City.”

The Mayor’s Youth Commission’s Parents’ Night Out event, which received special recognition at the ceremony, was the product of a partnership between the Arc of Fort Bend; Texana Learning Center; and Building Up and Breaking Barriers. The idea was formed in a brainstorming session by one of Missouri City’s 2013 graduating seniors, and what started out being a one-time Community Service Project has since flowered into an event that will be hosted annually.

“This special event serves the mentally challenged population but also sought to include the rest of the family. The Mayor’s Youth Commission continues to seek ways to promote physical and social inclusion with programming and activities within our community. By providing inclusive activities, children of all ages and ability can learn from each other and play together,” said Missouri City Parks and Recreation’s Ebony Ghee, who oversees the Mayor’s Youth Commission. “Such events as this helps the local government understand how imperative it is to provide and host an atmosphere of inclusion in today’s recreation programming. Being able to participate in community facilities and activities helps improve the quality of life for the family as a whole.”

The City’s Virtual Memorial project also received special recognition in the Planning Process category. The Virtual Memorial was the result of a creative effort between Missouri City Parks and Recreation and GIS Staff to develop an innovative way to honor residents both on the ground and on the web.

“Through the Memorial Tree Program, a tree is planted in a city park on behalf of a loved one and then a custom webpage is created for that person,” Wierzbicki said. “The website is then linked to the City’s interactive mapping system, which allows residents to search and see the exact location of the tree online. It’s a new way to think about memorial trees and allows for a much more personal experience than plaques and markers in parks.”

For more information about City Projects and events, subscribe to the Missouri City YouTube Channel, like us on Facebook—fb/MissouriCityTX; follow us on Twitter—@MissouriCityTX, or call 281.403.8530.

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