Tour des Trees: More Than Just a Bike Ride

By Randall H. Miller, Director of Research, Development and Industry Intelligence

Randy Miller Tour des Trees 2017The STIHL Tour des Trees is an annual week-long 500-600-mile cycling tour that is the primary public outreach and engagement event of TREE Fund and benefits their mission of supporting scientific discovery and dissemination of new knowledge in arboriculture and urban forestry. This year marked the 25th anniversary of the event, and riders enjoyed a week of cycling through Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., which included a mix of urban trails and bucolic country roads. Full-tour cyclists commit to raising at least $3,500 for TREE Fund, and 100 percent of what we raise supports research grants, scholarships and arboriculture education programs administered by TREE Fund.

Why do I ride Tour des Trees? This was my fifth “tour”, and  I ride out of dedication to trees and arboriculture. I recognize the contribution trees make to our quality of life, which is why I have committed my education and my career to them. It is also why I am generous with my money and time in fundraising and training for this important cause. I think that as a professional, I have a particular obligation to support the science upon which to base proper tree stewardship and promote educating the next generation of arborists for the hard work it will involve. What’s more, I have a vested self-interest because my livelihood depends on tree research. The results I achieve by applying effective tree-related science helps separate me from pretenders, and advances my career. It is my conviction that every professional arborist should include the TREE Fund in their annual giving. As a former Chair of their Board of Trustees, I know it will be put to good use. The Fund holds a deep sense of responsibility to manage the contributions they receive, and spares no effort in identifying the best research projects and worthiest students for their grants.

Part of the “friend raising” this year involved a partnership with the Providence Forum. The Providence Forum had been propagating seedlings and cuttings from a tulip tree under which the Declaration of Independence was read. This tree was destroyed in Hurricane Floyd in 1987. The Providence Forum has been distributing their propagated saplings as Liberty Trees and encouraging their planting to honor American history and veterans. We dedicated a number of them along our route, including one on the Maryland statehouse grounds. Maryland officials, including Lieutenant Governor Boyd Rutherford, went out of their way to honor the occasion. I had the honor of leading a number of Liberty Tree observances, including one at Pohick Episcopal Church, where George Washington and George Mason worshiped.

To view all the photos from this year’s tour, head to the Tour des Trees website.

Group photo credit: Coleman Camp, Tour des Trees photographer