SIDNEY — “Be the helping hands that make the difference in this world.” It’s more than just an encouraging quip; it’s a way of life for Tree Board volunteer Ann Asher.
Most people may recognize Ann as being a retired art teacher from Sidney City Schools. She taught art for 35 years for grades K-12 and art continues to play a very important part of her life. She’s even planning a show in July at the Amos Memorial Library in Sidney.
Ann has been involved with the City Tree Board since 2007 and is currently serving as the chairperson. It was her husband Merrill, a long-time City Council member, who encouraged her to serve on the Tree Board.
“He knew my love of nature and my love for working with people for the betterment of all would be a perfect fit,” Asher said. “I wasn’t so sure. I knew very little about the operations of the city and its Tree Board, but felt it would be good opportunity to learn, as well as, allowing me to contribute to the enhancement and beautification of the landscape of Sidney.”
As a part of her role on the Tree Board, Ann checks on trees that are in violation of the city’s code, that might endanger a home, are too close to overhead wires or areas where tree roots are causing sidewalk damage among other things. The Board is also responsible for developing, updating and administering the city’s written plan for the care, preservation, pruning, planting, replanting, removal or disposition of trees and shrubs in parks, along streets and in other public areas.
“It’s a big job and the Tree Board cannot do it alone. It takes all of us working hand-in-hand to protect and enhance Sidney’s urban forest,” Ann shared. “Over the 12 years I’ve served on this board, I’ve seen many personnel and committee member changes, but there is still an ongoing commitment to our same long-range beautification plan!”
Ann shared that another reward of working with the Tree Board is being a part of Tree City USA, a program that recognizes and celebrates the importance of urban forestry. One event that Ann is looking forward to in particular is hosting the 2020 Tree City USA awards ceremony in Sidney as a part of the city’s bicentennial celebration. “It’s a great opportunity to highlight our city and its fantastic urban forest.”
The first city wide tree sale in 2017, where nearly 300 trees were sold and the annual Arbor Day celebration, complete with a tree planting, were also highlights Ann mentioned during our conversation.
Of course, there are challenges too. Ann shared that the urban forestry devastation cause by the Emerald Ash Borer is an on-going struggle. “Getting the finances and personnel approved to keep the long-term plan funds and maintenance on schedule can be a challenge.”
“Sidney has been my home for the last 50 years, since I got married. I tell people all the time that they can make a difference. If they have a concern, they should take the time to get involved because they do have a voice and can make a difference by being a part of the team,” she said.
Ann and Merrill have one son, Ben, and he and his wife Pam have three children. “My family is most important to me. Our grandchildren are our pride and joy,” Ann beamed near the end of our conversation.
Thank you Ann Asher for taking the time to give back to your community and for all that you continue to do for the city of Sidney.
The city has approximately 82 volunteers on some 20 different Boards and Commissions. The time and many contributions these citizens lend to our governing process have been greatly appreciated over the years. The city is currently seeking individuals interested in serving on some of the varied boards. Those persons interested in volunteering for any of these positions should contact the city clerk’s office at 937-498-8148 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.