Sometimes, we need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

As arborists and tree care professionals, there are so many things that you care about, so many things that are important to you each day.

Your job. Your company. Your customers. Your safety.

But what about the future of arboriculture? Yes, this isn’t a subject that comes across your desk every day.

But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t warrant attention.

This is where the Tree Research and Education Endowment Fund comes into play. The TREE Fund — a 501(c)(3) charity — offers numerous grants and scholarships in support of research, outreach programs and education in the fields of arboriculture and urban forestry. It is the leading non-governmental source of funding for these two fields, and it serves to support scientific discovery and dissemination of new knowledge in both.

To date, the foundation has distributed more than $6 million in the form of scholarships and research grants to students and professionals. Knowledge gained from more than 400 TREE Fund research grants since 1976 directly affects your tree care companies, people’s lives and arborists’ techniques every day.

According to the TREE Fund’s website, its research priorities are as follows:

Root and soil management: Many urban tree problems originate below ground. Promoting root development while protecting roots from injury and conflicts with infrastructure are issues that arborists encounter regularly. Managing roots includes soil management.

Planting and establishment: Survival and vigorous growth of trees after planting are of concern to arborists and the entire green industry. Arborists are increasingly dealing with problems that originate in, or could be avoided by, the planting process.

Plant health care: Healthy plants have more effective defense systems and are better able to resist pests. Complete understanding of plant health may lead to new pest control strategies.

Risk assessment and worker safety: Safety is a major concern. It can be a life-or-death issue to tree workers and the public. Detection of defects and knowing how they develop are important. Improved equipment and work practices are needed.

Urban forestry: Urban forestry is the careful care and management of urban forests, i.e., tree populations in urban settings for the purpose of improving the urban environment.

The TREE Fund was established via a merger of the Research Trust of the International Society of Arboriculture and the National Arborist Foundation of the National Arborist Association (now called the Tree Care Industry Association). Organized as a charitable trust in the state of Illinois on July 20, 2002, the roots of the TREE Fund clearly go deep in arboriculture.

To actively contribute to the advancement of the arboriculture industry, please visit the TREE Fund website, where you can make an online donation. You may choose to make a contribution to the general TREE Fund, or you may choose to support a specific program, such as the Safe Arborist Techniques Fund.

Look, we all know that, sometimes, the thought of entrusting our money to a charity makes us feel uneasy. Or we might not think we are in a good financial position to give. Yes, even charities in our industries or ones that affect us directly. That is reality, and we all live in it.

But, I implore you, if you are in a position to give, or if you want to help make even a small difference in your profession—not to mention make a difference for the next generation of arborists and tree care professionals — consider giving to the TREE Fund.

Life makes it hard, sometimes, to see the forest for the trees — but we still need to consider the forest.