Trees of Life Against Climate Change
Held on Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020  1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.


This Zoom program was an exciting exploration of climate change in the Illinois region and how planting trees (the right kind of trees!) can help us improve the environment as we adapt to it.  Three brief presentations were included as well as an opportunity for questions and discussion.

  • -The program began with Climate Change in Illinois: Science & Impacts. Dr. Trent Ford, Illinois State Climatologist, provided an overview of the forces affecting our climate and how they are causing specific changes in average temperature, rainfall and the frequency and strength of extreme weather events like drought and heat waves. He focused not only on the Northern Illinois region specifically, but also the broader context of climate change globally.
  • -The next presentation, Climate Mitigation and the Urban Forest of the Chicago Region, highlighted the urban forest in the Chicago region. Lydia Scott, Director of the Chicago Region Trees Initiative, explored how the trees around our homes and in our communities are critical to storing carbon and mitigating climate impacts. Urban trees provide critical benefits - including reduced heat, filtering pollution out of our air and storing carbon. Participants learned how they can be catalysts for change in their own neighborhoods, improving the health of the urban forest while mitigating climate change and improving quality of life.
  • -In A Look at Some of the Good Work Being Done to Protect Forests, Rick Schoenfield, chair of the Environmental Task Force, will discuss local and global initiatives to restore native habitat and combat deforestation and inform participants of the organizations that support these efforts.
  • -Your Questions Answered!

Our Speakers:

Dr. Trent Ford is the Illinois State Climatologist. He and his team provide information online, through traditional and social media, and by speaking to interested groups across the state. In addition to education and outreach, he also conducts research on the climate system and extreme climate events, monitors current conditions, and studies climate change. A native of Roanoke, Illinois, Trent earned a bachelor's in geography from Illinois State University and a master's and PhD at Texas A&M University. Before joining the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Trent was an assistant professor in the Department of Geography & Environmental Resources at Southern Illinois University.


Lydia Scott is the Director of the Chicago Region Trees Initiative (RTI), a coalition to improve the health of the urban forest and the quality of life for people in the Chicago region. She directs outreach to secure the expertise and resources of partners supporting the implementation of the RTI Master Plan, as well as education of public and private land managers, owners, and volunteers on the value of the urban forest, the skills necessary to care for it, and how policy can improve this important resource. In addition to leading staff and volunteers from The Morton Arboretum, an Executive Advisory Council and communities across the region in conjunction with the RTI, Lydia works on forest composition, stewardship, forestry professionalism, equity, and climate change in order to improve the health, diversity, and canopy cover of the regional forest. Lydia has a master’s degree in Environmental Science from the University of Illinois.


Rick Schoenfield is the Chairman of Etz Chaim’s Environmental Task Force. He has been concerned about climate change and its effect on both people and wildlife for some time, especially following his visits to the Malay Peninsula and Borneo with the Rainforest Trust. That trip and having the opportunity to be at a dinner where Jane Goodall spoke, greatly expanded his appreciation of the critical importance of trees in general, and of rain forests in particular. It’s fair to say to that the trip with the Rainforest Trust led to today’s program.