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 volunteered by the Tree Stewards each year help Front Royal fulfill requirements to be a qualified member of Tree City USA over 20 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 Samuels Public Library.

Executive Committee 2020

  • Melody Hotek, President
  • Henry Pickard, Vice President
  • Vicki Althaus, Treasurer
  • -pending-, Secretary

Board of Directors at Large

  • Joan Brubaker
  • Leslie Eliason
  • Carol Groves
  • Emily Huttar
  • David Means
  • Ron Perlik
  • David Richmond

2017 Year-in-Review – Happy 20th Anniversary

The Front Royal/Warren County Tree Stewards celebrated its 20th Anniversary in 2017 by planting 20 trees at Burrell Brooks Park along the Royal Shenandoah Greenway on Criser Rd…in the snow.  The Tree Stewards were supported by recent graduates of the “All About Trees” class and members of the 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.  In 2017, Mayor Tim Darr read the Arbor Day proclamation and Front Royal was designated a Tree City USA for the 18th consecutive year.  Mary VanderSluis from  the VDoF presented the 2017 Tree City USA flag and plaque.  Anne Rose, the Town’s Horticulturist selected a Fern Leaf Full Moon Maple for this year’s tree that was planted in the rain along the path at Happy Creek Arboretum.

Education  & Community Outreach  In 2017, the  All About Trees class had 21 actively engaged students, many who became active Tree Stewards.  It ran from the first week of September  through the planting of the class tree, a Persion Ironwood, Parrotia persica, at Bowman Park on Luray Ave.  CEUs were available for local arborists.

Tree Stewards participated in many festivals and events including:

  • Taste for Books: Around the World at Samuels Public Library in April
  • Blandy’s 3-day Garden Fair in May at the State Arboretum on Mother’s Day weekend
  • Northern Shenandoah Master GardenFest the first Saturday in June
  • Festival of Leaves in October

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 2017 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.
  • Corrected mulching around the Yews at the Warren County Government Center relocating excess mulch to new areas.
  • Virginia Ave (between 1st and 6th St.) – Structure pruned and removed branches causing safety issues on both sides of the street.
  • Planted 20 trees at Burrell Brooks Park thanks to the help of the Beautification of Front Royal Committee and logistics provided by County employees.
  • Ongoing maintenance of trees at Miss Florence Smith Memorial Park, class and Arbor Day trees, Samuels Library trees and the Jim Huttar pocket park along the Royal Shenandoah Greenway.

Special Projects

  1. Tree Stewards with the assistance of Master Gardeners expanded the Butterfly Garden at Happy Creek Arboretum providing new native plants for pollinators
  2. A grant was obtained from Trees Virginia for Safety equipment including bright yellow safety vests embroidered with the Tree Stewards logo.

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 Culpeper workshops.


  1.  Children’s Events included two reading-and-craft times at Samuels Public Library and special appearances by our Mascot ‘Stewart the Squirrel.’
  2. Trees R Cool educational program and prizes were incorporated at the festivals.
  3. A special Pollinator game was created for the Kid’s Scavenger Hunt at the GardenFest at Belle Grove Plantation.




Community Partners7
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 this year 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