JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska —
More than 100 Airmen, Soldiers members of the community, children and friends attended two tree-planting ceremonies to celebrate Arbor Day and the life of a special volunteer at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, May 17 and 21.
The Arbor Day Foundation recently named JBER a 2017 Tree City USA, an honor the base has earned for 21 years running.
According to a foundation press release, JBER achieved Tree City USA recognition by meeting four requirements: convening a tree board, instituting a tree-care policy, having an annual forestry budget of at least $2 per capita, and hosting an Arbor Day observance.
Stephen Nickle, State of Alaska Division of Forestry, presented the Tree City USA award to JBER during Arbor Day events May 17 near the crossroads of Arctic Warrior Drive and Pease Street, and May 21 at Ursa Major Elementary School.
The tree-planting ceremonies were conducted in memory of Jill Hubert, wife of retired U.S. Air Force Col. Lars Hubert, prior 11th Air Force vice-commander.
“On this, JBER’s 21st celebration of Arbor Day, I hereby dedicate this day and this tree in honor and in memory of our friend Jill Hubert, dedicated to furthering the education of our children on the importance of the air, land, water and wilderness around them and whose kind and caring spirit for all living things will be forever with us,” said U.S. Air Force Col. George T.M. Dietrich III, 673d Air Base Wing and JBER commander, as children helped plant a paper birch tree near the log cache.
Jill played a major role in Arbor Day and Earth Day events at JBER, volunteering with the base wildlife education center from 2015 through 2017. She coordinated tours with the base wildlife center and participated in all planning and execution of Arbor Day and Earth Day and coined the phrase “PoeTree.”
“I met Jill one day when she stopped by the base wildlife center and said, ‘I love nature. Can I help?’” said Charlene Johnson, JBER Wetland and Vegetation Ecology biological scientist. “She was an extremely special, humble and loving person. I’m honored to be able to celebrate her life and dedication to education all things wild and free.”
Students from base elementary school students wrote poems about trees, which they read at the tree-planting ceremonies, to honor Jill and celebrate Arbor Day.
“Advice from a tree: Stand tall and proud. Sink your roots into the Earth. Be content with your natural beauty. Go out on a limb. Drink plenty of water. Remember your roots. Enjoy the view!” read a fourth-grade student from Mount Spurr Elementary School.