With 120 years’ worth of well-matured trees across 242 beautifully wooded, oft-walked acres in West Lafayette, the Indiana Veterans’ Home is an arborist’s dream.
So, too, is giving back in their own way to those who gave so much in service of our country, alive or absent, as well as those who visit them. The Indiana Veterans’ Home provides nursing care, short-term rehabilitation and domiciliary care for honorably discharged Hoosier veterans and their spouses.
For the second straight year, Saluting Branches – a not-for-profit volunteer effort to maintain tree health at veterans’ homes and cemeteries – supported work at the Indiana Veterans’ Home. After a 2016 visit focused on trees nearest the ground’s cemetery, this year’s event, held Sept. 20, spread a canopy of charity across the entire campus.
After local arborists helped scope out the most problematic trees, the plan was to address four trees over eight hours. But when 25 volunteers showed up – a jump from eight last year – the crew was able to address structure, invasive insects or diseases in eight total trees.
“Word really got out about it this year, so we had a lot more people jump onboard,” says Felicia Dale, marketing director and special projects coordinator for the Indiana Veterans’ Home. “We’re so grateful that so many came out to help us maintain a beautiful campus for our veterans and visitors.”
The donated work totaled six figures of dollar value.— Carrie Tauscher, Indiana Department of Natural Resources
Tipmont REMC was among those providing integral support, bringing its own tree specialists and active volunteers as well as enlisting the help of Mint City Tree Service, the company to whom it contracts its tree services.
“They brought a lot of large equipment and an excellent crew to help with the work,” Dale says.
Other partnering organizations included: Engledow Group, Inc.; Davey Resource Group; Gilbert Arborcare, LLC; Ecotransitions, LLC; Purdue University’s Department of Forestry and Natural Resources; the Indiana Division of Forestry; Green Arbor Tree Experts, Inc.; Indianapolis Power and Light; and Wright Tree.
According to Carrie Tauscher at the Indiana Department of Natural Resources – with whom the veterans’ home coordinated Saluting Branches’ efforts – the donated work totaled six figures of dollar value.
Now in its third year of operation, Saluting Branches is the tree industry’s largest one-day volunteer event – with more than $2.2 million in services donated by arborists. Originating in Minnesota, Saluting Branches is officially presented in partnership with the National Cemetery Administration and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. To learn more, visit SalutingBranches.org.
So, will Saluting Branches return to the Indiana Veterans’ Home next year?
“Well, we’re on 242 wooded acres, so there’s still plenty that they could do,” Dale says with a laugh. “We know they’re also interested in doing a replant for us. We’re told that’s really what arborists prefer to do, and we’d love to give them the opportunity next year.”
There’s also the fan club they have to appease.
“The residents always like to come out and see what’s going on, so the workers definitely have fans,” Dale says. “We’re extremely grateful for all of their work and commitment.”
Rob Ford is Tipmont and Wintek's communication director, a role he's held since 2015.
Rob has a bachelor's and a master's in Communication from Purdue University. He lives in West Lafayette with his wife and three children and has a life-sized Yoda statue in his office. Away from the office, you’ll find Rob working on his golf swing, jump shot, or hope for a Purdue basketball national title – all futile endeavors.