Dr. Jackie Cole, a Veterinarian, lead dedicated volunteers in Galveston to start reforesting after Hurricane Ike, which in 2008 flooded more than 75% of the buildings and killed nearly 40,000 trees -- 50 percent of all the trees on the Island.
A former City Council member in Galveston and long time environmental activist Cole founded the Galveston Island Tree Conservancy (Galvestonislandtreeconservancy.org), a 501C-3, to educate citizens and raise funds for replanting. She also was instrumental in passing an ordinance establishing an official tree committee charged with advising City Council on reforestation issues.
In partnership with the Texas Forest Service, City staff, and volunteers, assessments were done and plans made to replace the 100-year-old trees that had graced the historical neighborhoods of Galveston. Over the past three years more than 8,000 trees have been planted through a variety of Tree Conservancy programs, reforesting parks, boulevards, schools, right-of-way and private properties -- with plans for another 3,000 trees this year, all paid for from donations.
Lessons learned provide a model for coping with disaster recovery and resilience. Under her leadership the Galveston Island Tree Conservancy won the Arbor Day Foundation 2011 Excellence in Partnership Award; The Texas Forest Service 2010 Gold Leaf Award; Clean Galveston 2010 Quality of Life Award; and first place in the Tom’s of Maine 2011 Good Community Sponsorship.
Jackie Cole is being honored as a Champion of Change for her innovative energy priorities and sustainable living practices making a greener community a possibility in any American city or town.