Kathy Self, Tree Board Chair for the Town of Springfield for more than 30 years, is the driving force behind the beautiful Memorial Park that serves as a shady retreat in this southeastern Colorado community. For her unparalleled vision and dedication to planting trees in Springfield, Self is the Colorado State Forest Service's Volunteer of the Year for 2021.
"Trees that line the streets of any town are very inviting. I am motivated to plant trees to simply beautify our small town. They keep our streets cooler in the summer, protect us from the cold harsh winter winds, provide an environment for wildlife, but most importantly, they create a wonderful environment for children. I feel compelled to plant trees in Springfield because childhood memories can include the trees in a backyard or old neighborhood. The sentimental value of a special tree is simply immeasurable," Self said.
Thanks to Self's commitment to tree health in her community, the Town of Springfield has been a proud Tree City USA for more than 30 years. Last year, she supported work through a U.S. Forest Service grant that enabled removal of 39 dead or dying trees at the pre-school, in parks and along community streets. Self worked one-on-one with private landowners to secure a 50/50 cost share as part of the grant, and she helped purchase trees and get them planted in the community.
"It is such an honor and heartfelt pleasure to know Kathy. It is with great joy and tree-mendous appreciation that the CSFS has named Kathy Self as the recipient of the prestigious 2021 Volunteer of the Year Award," said Donna Davis, Urban and Community Forestry Program Specialist for the CSFS. "The trees and green landscapes throughout Springfield are a living testament to her dedication and love for community. Thank you, Kathy, Tree Board Chairwoman and community volunteer!"
Springfield would not look the same without Self's decades of volunteering. The school and Baca County Fairgrounds have many of the trees she helped to plant, and Town Park is a diverse and healthy stand of trees rather than the Siberian Elm monoculture it used to be. Self also reminds the community and its residents of regular tree care needs; in fact, they're probably reminded to water the trees just by seeing her around town watering trees from the tank in the back of her pickup.
Self received this award at the virtual CSFS annual meeting in March. Each year through its annual awards, the CSFS recognizes partners and volunteers who demonstrate noteworthy achievement, exceptional effort, and career commitment toward attaining the agency's strategic priorities and mission.