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New NFS Community Forester for western NE covering a lot of ground
By David Ostdiek, communications associate
Panhandle Research and Extension Center
Can a community forester stay busy in a plains state like Nebraska? Absolutely, according to Amy Seiler, who recently began her duties as western community forestry specialist for the Nebraska Forest Service.
This is the state, after all, where Arbor Day originated, and where residents still consider trees important enough to plant several million young ones every year.
Seiler has been busy as she works at establishing contacts with communities throughout the western two-thirds of the state. Her goals include helping initiate vigorous tree-planting programs and developing educated green industry people and dedicated volunteers – park boards, tree boards and other civic groups – who are committed to planting trees and being advocates for trees in communities.
Seiler’s office is at the North Platte Natural Resources District in Scottsbluff, located at 100547 Airport Road. She can be reached at 308-632-2749. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Her geographic area is expansive, taking in all of western and central Nebraska, from the Wyoming line to the Kearney area. She also has a counterpart in eastern Nebraska, Graham Herbst, located in Omaha at Douglas County Extension Office.
Seiler’s job is to help local governments develop, maintain and improve community forests on public spaces, as opposed to working with individuals on private property. This includes evaluating a community’s current tree canopy in terms of quantity, quality, and health; developing plans for increasing the urban forest canopies, including implementing tree-planting programs; developing maintenance schedules for pruning; and organizing volunteer groups.
Designing parking lots and helping write city ordinances for trees planted below power lines or in public rights of way are some examples of specific projects.
Seiler also will assist with other programs that the Nebraska Forest Service operates under the community forestry umbrella, such as ReTree Nebraska; the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum; and conservation education.
In assisting with grant programs in western Nebraska, Seiler’s role includes attending meetings and providing feedback on ideas and plans, such as how to organize volunteers, or where to do tree plantings. She also advocates for development of sustainable landscapes such as rain gardens and bio-swales.
Seiler also will be available to provide training in Project Learning Tree, a conservation education curriculum that makes use of learning activities connected to trees and forestry. The activities meet state educational standards in a range of subject areas while encouraging clean water, healthy soil and tree planting.
She also will be involved with the Tree City USA program, which is overseen by the Nebraska Forest Service Community Forestry and Sustainable Landscape area.
Before coming to the Nebraska Forest Service, Seiler spent about two decades in horticulture and landscaping businesses. After graduating from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a bachelor’s degree in horticulture with an emphasis in landscape design, Seiler spent nine years in the retail nursery industry, and the past 12 years operating her own landscape design and consulting business.
Even though Nebraska is not a heavily forested state, Seiler said it is a special place to her.
“I love the high plains landscape. I love the unique plants that grow out here and the unique look that western Nebraska provides with the multitude of evergreens. I love the prairie grasses; I love that look, and the nice transition from the hardwood forest back east and start to enjoy the pines we have out here.”
“A great thing about Nebraska is that in the east we have hardwood forest, which has its own look, and as we travel across the state have the best of both worlds. It transitions to cedar forest in central Nebraska, and a pine forest in the west. So we get a sample of everything, which I think is pretty unique.”