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Contact information
For information on the conference, contact:
Laura Lorentz
DNR urban forestry partnership and policy specialist
Division of Forestry

Good Health Grows on Trees ConferenceThe influence of nearby nature on public health

Conference hero image with conference name

Thursday, May 30, 2019

9:00 a.m.–3:30 p.m.
Rotary Botanical Gardens, Janesville, WI

Registration is closed

We invite you to join us for the first ever Good Health Grows on Trees Conference, hosted by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Urban Forestry program, funded in part by the USDA Forest Service. This one-day event will include presentations from dynamic speakers exploring the science behind the impacts of urban and community forests on our physical and mental health, and applications of these findings on the ground. We will hear from a variety of professional perspectives including social science, public health, landscape architecture, city planning and urban forestry. This conference includes a facilitated interactive session where you will be invited to discuss and collaborate with your fellow attendees. Bring your questions, ideas and enthusiasm. Hope to see you there.

Intended outcomes for attendees

  1. Develop an understanding of the breadth and scope of health benefits of urban forests, backed by research.
  2. Participate in a learning community of professionals from varied disciplines through small group exercises and discussion centered on health benefits provided by nearby nature.
  3. Generate ideas to affect positive influence on urban forests while benefitting your profession and recognize trees and nature as a tool to improve human health in your sphere of influence.


Dr. Kathleen Wolf (keynote)
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Research Social Scientist with the College of the Environment at the University of Washington (Seattle)

The keynote speaker for the conference is Dr. Kathleen Wolf, a Research Social Scientist with the College of the Environment at the University of Washington (Seattle). Her research focus is the human dimensions of urban forestry and urban ecosystems, particularly human health. Another interest is the translation of scientific evidence for use in local government policy and planning.

Dr. Kirsten Beyer
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Associate Professor, Division of Epidemiology, Associate Director, PhD Program in Public & Community Health, Medical College of Wisconsin; Adjunct Faculty, Geography, UW-Milwaukee

Dr. Kirsten Beyer is on the faculty in the Medical College of Wisconsin's Division of Epidemiology in the Institute for Health & Equity. Dr. Beyer's work focuses on the intersection of health, place and social justice. Her research passion is to identify environmental and systematic causes of health disparities, and to apply a translational research framework, including community engaged research, to move research findings into program and policy interventions to close the gaps. While her interest in social justice has early roots, her specialization in geography and public health stems from her undergraduate focus on international studies, her work in the nonprofit sector after college and her graduate work in global health, geospatial analysis and health disparities.

Mr. Dan Buckler
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Data Analyst, Forestry Division, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Dan Buckler is a data analyst with the urban forestry program of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. In this capacity, he tries to understand what trees are growing where and why that's important. He is a Certified Arborist through the International Society of Arboriculture and holds a master's degree in environmental science from Youngstown State University, where he studied patterns of forest regeneration following wildfire. He lives in Milwaukee.

Dr. Samuel Dennis, Jr.
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Department of Planning and Landscape Architecture, University of Wisconsin Madison, Environmental Design Laboratory

Dr. Dennis is an associate professor and director of the Environmental Design Laboratory. As a geographer and landscape architect, his research focuses on understanding and creating environments that support human health and well-being, especially for young people. He is particularly interested in the role urban open spaces play in preventing chronic disease. Although he continues to pursue his early interest in the social construction of landscape meaning, his current research engages communities in assessing and improving their neighborhoods through participatory research, planning and design. He currently serves as program chair for the Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (BLA) degree.

Dr. James LaGro, Jr.
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Professor of Urban and Regional Planning, Department of Planning and Landscape Architecture, University of Wisconsin Madison

Professor of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Wisconsin Madison, Dr. LaGro studies the causes and consequences of land use and landscape change within the built environment. His current research, teaching and outreach focus on community sustainability, resilience and livability, with an emphasis on effective strategies for planning new, and retrofitting older, urban and suburban neighborhoods.

Dr. Samuel Pratsch
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Evaluation Unit Coordinator, Environmental Resources Center, University of Wisconsin Madison

Samuel Pratsch has over 15 years of experience designing and implementing evaluations of community-based, non-formal education programs related to agricultural, nature resources and environmental education programs. In his work, he creates opportunities for individuals and organizations to improve their projects and programs through rigorous and innovative approaches to program development and evaluation. Samuel has expertise in strategic planning, group facilitation, program development and impact evaluations.

Who should attend

Professionals in the fields of health care, public health, urban and regional planning, landscape architecture and urban and community forestry are encouraged to attend. If you are interested in exploring the connections between trees and health and meeting new colleagues, this conference is for you.

Why attend

This event is the first of its kind in Wisconsin, exploring a topic that has been gaining momentum and grabbing headlines—the influence of trees and green spaces on our health. You will learn about the research from national and local perspectives, hear examples of how the science has been implemented on the ground, learn about new tools to explore the urban forest around you and meet colleagues from across the state and a variety of disciplines. Join us in creating a learning community where we can connect with our speakers and each other.

We are pleased to offer continuing education credits from the following professional organizations:

  • American Institute of Certified Planners: Certification Maintenance (AICP CM) (5 credits)
  • National Board of Public Health Examiners: Certified Public Health (CPH) Recertification Credits (5 credits)
  • International Society of Arboriculture: Certified Arborist, Municipal Specialist, BCMA-Management (4.5 credits)
  • Landscape Architecture Continuing Education System – Landscape Architecture Continuing Education System (LA CES)
    (4.25 credits)

Conference agenda

Detailed conference agenda

8:30 Registration
9:00 Opening remarks: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
9:15 Keynote: Dr. Kathleen Wolf, University of Washington Seattle
10:45 Break with refreshments
11:00 Series of presentations:
  Dr. Kirsten Beyer, Medical College of Wisconsin
  Dr. James LaGro, Jr., University of Wisconsin Madison
  Mr. Dan Buckler, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
12:00 Lunch (provided)
1:00 Presentation: Dr. Samuel Dennis, Jr., University of Wisconsin Madison
2:00 Break with refreshments
2:15 Small group work:
  Facilitated by Dr. Samuel Pratsch, University of Wisconsin Environmental Resources Center
  Informed by Dr. Kathleen Wolf
3:15 Closing remarks and call to action

Registration cancellation policy

Absolutely no refunds will be issued for cancelled registrations. However, if you are no longer able to attend the conference, we encourage you to find an alternate to attend in your place. Please contact Haley Frater at no later than May 15 if you need to assign your registration to an alternate.

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Funding support provided by the U.S. Forest Service. This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

Last revised: Monday June 10 2019