Nick Kuhn's mission is to help all Missouri residents know the benefits of trees and how they can work for them.
For more than two years, Kuhn's work as forestry coordinator with the Missouri Department of Conservation has had him working to show how trees in communities are just as important as those in the wild.
"Trees in communities can help homeowners reduce their utility costs," he said. "They also lead to more people wanting to get out and enjoy the outdoors and exercise. Not only more trees are being planted, but also we're seeing a more diverse population which is a healthy thing. How many trees planted varies from area to area, but people appreciate trees more for what they do for streets and homes."
Kuhn was a city forester in New Mexico and Tennessee and has been in forestry for 20 years.
He grew up in Illinois, and this was a job to get him closer to his Missouri residents.
Kuhn said Missouri has long history of helping people know more about what trees can do for them.
"We have been doing community forestry long before other states," he said. "Our program started in the "70s, and it was not until 1991 that the federal government started their program."
Kuhn said if we plan for community forests for shade, wildfire benefits, controlling storm water and good parks then we end up with aesthetically pleasing environments.
"We educate staff of cities and community leaders to help them make own programs instead of us doing stuff for them," he said. "Surveys show that Missouri residents as well as leaders and politicians recognize benefits of trees and are coming to us for help."