Award of Merit

The Award of Merit is the highest honor paid by TCIA to an individual or company that represents leadership in the field of arboriculture and long-term commitment to the industry. TCIA doesn’t give an Award of Merit each year, one reason why this Award is considered our industry’s most prestigious recognition.

Interested in nominating an individual or company?

Download the 2017 registration form


September 22, 2017. Winners are announced at TCIA’s annual Winter Management Conference.

Current winner

Tom Tolkacz honored with Award of Merit

The Award of Merit was presented by Andy Ross, president of RTEC Treecare and outgoing Board president, during WMC 2017 in Puerto Rico in February.

The Award of Merit is our association’s highest honor. Members of the TCIA Awards Committee this year were past chairs Ben Tresselt, Will Maley and Jack Guffey. The Board of Directors wholeheartedly endorsed their selection of someone to join this distinguished group for 2017.

This year’s honoree’s contributions to the profession of arboriculture span many decades. TCIA would like to recognize a former Board member who has given far more than his fair share of time, energy, talent, experience and wisdom to the industry – a decade after completing his Board service.

awardDuring his six years on the Board he brought a fresh outlook and his impact was felt from his very fi rst meeting. He served on and has been a key player on the Nominations task force and the Governance task force, both of which involved new processes for identifying and selecting the key players in our industry for future leadership.

He served on the association’s fi rst Ethics Committee, which established the due diligence procedure for conducting investigations and hearings into ethics complaints.

At the same time, he volunteered to serve as the TCIA representative to the TREE Fund’s Board of Directors, which also involved serving on their Executive Committee. This commitment required attending at least three more meetings annually at a time when the TREE Fund was fi nding its way through a challenging reorganization with a new executive director.

Yet we wouldn’t be honoring him simply for his past Board service. He has remained active in TCIA and industry affairs in the years since. A regular at WMC – when injuries from his outdoor activities allow – he is a strong supporter of the Voice for Trees PAC and Student Career Days. More recently, he contributed his time and expertise in three important roles: First, he was a volunteer member of the TCIA strategic planning committee that met to devise the association’s latest strategic plan. That process launched both our regional outreach coordinators initiative and a safety initiative that became the Arborist Safety Training Institute.

Secondly, he continued to give generously of his company’s time and his expertise to visiting TCIA members. Groups of members have spent days in his headquarters – learning from key company executives – examining fi nances, operations, marketing and other aspects of running a successful, multi-branch arboriculture business.

Finally, he has been actively involved in TCIA’s workforce development efforts in Colorado, where we hope to establish a new two-year arboriculture program at Front Range Community College.

For his engaged membership, which spans almost two decades with the association, and his willingness to selfl essly offer his wisdom to others, we gladly honor Tom Tolkacz, CEO of Swingle Lawn, Tree & Landscape Care, with TCIA’s Award of Merit.

Past winners

  • 2016 Dennis Ryan
  • 2015 Dr. John Ball
  • 2014 Terrill Collier
  • 2013 Jeanne Houser
  • 2012 Jerry Morey
  • 2011 Greg Daniels
  • 2010 Dan Christie
  • 2009 Tim Johnson
  • 2008 Mark Tobin
  • 2006 Peter Gerstenberger
  • 2005 Robert A. Bartlett Jr
  • 2004 Lauren Lanphear
  • 2003 Gary R. Mullane and Robert Mullane
  • 2002 Donald F. Blair
  • 2001 Pat Felix and John Britton
  • 2000 The Stockbridge School of Agriculture, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  • 1999 F. David Dickson* and Paul P. McFarland
  • 1998 Robert A. Bartlett, Sr.
  • 1997 Robert Felix
  • 1996 John R. Hendricksen
  • 1995 Asplundh Tree Expert Co.
  • 1994 P. P. Pirone and Paul Wolfe II
  • 1993 Dr. Alex Shigo
  • 1992 and Dr. Richard Harris
  • 1991 and George Tyler
  • 1990 and Walter E. Money
  • 1988 Hyland R. Johns
  • 1987 Erik H. Haupt
  • 1986 Richard G. Alvarez
  • 1985 The Davey Tree Expert Company
  • 1983 Professor Gordon King
  • 1982 The F. A. Bartlett Tree Expert Company 
  • 1981 Earl J. Sinnamon
  • 1979 H. M. Van Wormer and Dr. L. C. Chadwick
  • 1978 Dr. Paul E. Tilford and Ross Farrens  and Edwin E. Irish
  • 1980 John Z. Duling and Freeman L. Parr
  • 1984 Ray Gustin, Jr. and William P. Lanphear