Front Royal / Warren County

Tree Stewards

The Front Royal/Warren County Tree Stewards is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.  The organization has been in existence since 1997 and began with just 13 members. The work and hours vounteered by the Tree Stewards each year help Front Royal fulfill requirements to be a qualified member of Tree City USA for the past 17 years.  Education programs are offered to residents of Warren and nearby counties.


The mission of the Front Royal/Warren County Tree Steward program is to increase public awareness of the intrinsic value and beauty of trees, to learn and understand the needs of the community forest, to help the Town of Front Royal and the County of Warren in caring for the community’s publicly planted trees (especially young trees), to educate other residents of the community about urban forestry, and to involve additional community members in creating and caring for community tree plantings.


Meetings are held on the 3rd Monday of each month at 7 pm at the Martin's Community Center.

Executive Committee 2017

Melody Hotek, President

Henry Pickard, Vice President

Vicki Althaus, Treasurer

Frances Pickard, Secretary

Board of Directors at Large

Joan Brubaker      Leslie Eliason   Carol Groves

Jeff Hotek            Emily Huttar    David Means

Ron Perlik            David Richmond


2016 Year-in-Review

The Front Royal/Warren County Tree Stewards packed a lot of education, work sessions and tree plantings into 2016.  The group as a whole reported at least 1728 hours for a total volunteer benefit of approximately $38,865 to our community.

Arbor Day 
Working together with the Town of Front Royal, the Visitor Center and the Virginia Dept. of Forestry, a combined Earth Day/Arbor Day celebration  was held on April 23, 2016.  Mayor Tim Darr read the Arbor Day proclamation and Front Royal was designated a Tree City USA for the 17th consecutive year.  Mary VanderSluis from  the VDoF presented the 2016 Tree City USA flag and plaque.  Anne Rose, the Town’s Horticulturist selected a Golden Weeping Willow for this year’s tree that was planted in the rain along Happy Creek and the bridge near Prospect St.  Thanks to a grant from Trees Virginia, the Tree Stewards were able to purchase new exhibit tables and outreach materials for display at the 2016 Arbor Day celebration and for future events.

Education  & Community Outreach

The All About Trees class this Fall had 13 actively engaged students all of whom completed all the requirements and received their certificates.  Two participants were from the Warren County School system and a few were from other counties.  It ran from the first week of September  through the planting of the class tree, a River Birch on October 22 on the Front Street portion of the Greenway.  CEUs were available for local arborists.  
In late July and early August 2 hands-on sessions at Samuels Public Library on proper pruning methods were offered for free to the public.
Tree Stewards participated in many festivals and events including: 

  • Blandy’s 3-day Garden Fair in May at the State Arboretum
  • Northern Shenandoah Master GardenFest in June
  • Festival of Leaves in October was rained out but we will return
  • The Farmers Market outreach table  during July and into September
Kiosks at the Visitor Center and at Happy Creek Arboretum displayed information about best practices for trees, bees, insects etc as well as upcoming events throughout the year.  Information about the Tree Stewards is often available at the library community board and a display in late August highlighting the organization and educational materials.

A local newspaper column “Ask Stewart” provides information about trees in a fun format for the public.
Work Sessions  

The Tree Stewards work with the Town of Front Royal's Horticulturist to identify how we can assist with pruning street trees and conduct numerous work sessions throughout the year in the town and county.  Together in 2016 we worked on:
  • Happy Creek Arboretum - removed a few trees for visibility of the creek, ripped out invasive vines, limbed up along paths for mowing, weeded, and put down new mulch. Planted and replaced shrubs and removed deadwood and debris, sprayed weeds.
  • Commerce Ave and North Royal - limbed up and structure pruned Hornbeams
  • Prepared planting beds along Royal Shenandoah Greenway at Eastham Park and Front Street
  • Virginia Ave (between 1st and 6th St.) - Structure pruned and removed branches causing safety issues on both sides of the street.
  • North Royal Ave (Eastside from 1st to 6th St.) Structure pruned and removed branches causing safety issues.
  • Miss Florence Smith Memorial Park - Planted 8 young trees, staked and installed wire surround for protection and watered regularly.
Special Projects
  1. Jim Huttar Memorial Pocket Park was installed along the Royal Shenandoah Greenway in memory of fellow Tree Steward, Jim Huttar, and recognizing his efforts toward the realization of the Greenway.  The park was completed at no cost to the Town or County with local donations and includes a bench and a bicycle sculpture by local artisans and a tricolor beech tree.
  2. Memorial Tree Planting - a River Birch was planted at Eastham Park in memory of Kathy Gilliam’s father.
  3. Memorial Tree Planting - a Plum tree was planted in the Children’s Garden at Samuel’s Library in memory of a service dog.
  4. Represented the town as co-hosts of the Virginia Bike Event in June.
  5. Master Gardeners continued their work on the Butterfly Garden at Happy Creek Arboretum.
  6. Worked with the local Appalachian Trail Community Committee on a special presentation of Family Race to Leave No Trace! with Shenandoah National Park Ranger Regina Cardwell held at Samuels Library in September.
  7. A grant was obtained from Trees Virginia for Safety equipment to be purchased in 2017.
Continuing Education

Many of the Tree Stewards attended seminars during the year to expand their knowledge of trees; two of note were the Waynesboro and Culpepper workshops.

  1.  Children’s Events included two reading-and-craft times at Samuels Public Library in March and October with special appearances by our Mascot ‘Stewart the Squirrel.’
  2. Trees R Cool educational program and prizes were incorporated at the festivals.

Community Partners

Tree Steward member David Means served as Chair on the Front Royal Urban Forestry Advisory Commission in 2016.  Melody Hotek represented the Tree Stewards at the Front Royal Beautification Committee meetings.  Emily Huttar is our contact with the Master Gardeners.  And, we all enjoyed working together this year with the  Appalachian Trail Community Committee and the Front Royal Visitor Center on special events of mutual interest.

We look forward to seeing you around town in 2017 as we continue to volunteer for our community forest!  If you see us, stop and say hello and tell us about your trees!

Melody Hotek, President


Royal Shenandoah Greenway

Royal Shen logo-2

The Royal Shenandoah Greenway is a system of paths and trails to support active and healthy living and appreciation of nature for local residents and visitors of all ages. The Greenway connects Front Royal’s educational, recreational, historical, and commercial areas.


Front Royal/Warren County Tree Stewards is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.  All donations are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated. Razoo specializes in donations for nonprofits and allows you to use credit cards.

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