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.

Winners are announced at TCIA’s annual Winter Management Conference.


Current winner

Award of Merit is bestowed on Mark Garvin

The following is the text of Peter Sortwell’s presentation of the Award of Merit at Winter Management Conference in Maui, Hawaii, in February.

The Award of Merit is TCIA’s highest honor. This year the Board of Directors and the Awards Committee elected to honor Mark Garvin, the association’s retiring president and CEO, as the latest recipient of this award.

In February of 1996, Mark was hired to be associate editor of TCI Magazine. He soon found out that small organizations have an expansive view of job descriptions. From going on the road to interview members, to writing his own hire announcement, Mark always stepped up for the assignment. His talents in producing marketing materials, helping to organize events and providing positive communications soon showed through.

Before long, 10 years had passed and Mark took on the responsibilities of TCIA public policy and public relations, and by 2008 was promoted to chief program officer, so he could just do … pretty much everything.

His job description at the time read:

“In his new capacity, Mark will manage the Voice for Trees political action commit-tee, the bi-annual Legislative Conference, grass-roots fundraising and implement TCIA’s legislative initiatives. He will also oversee production and content delivery of the online and print publications teams and direct the association’s public relations and industry partnership programs.

“As chief program officer, he will also lead the marketing for all TCIA programs, including Membership, Accreditation, Certified Treecare Safety Professional (CTSP), Partners Advancing Commercial Tree Care, Winter Management Conference and TCI EXPO.”

Clearly, someone was very good at delegation!

In 2009, Cynthia Mills, long-time TCIA president, left and Mark stepped up as interim president, bringing on a new set of responsibilities. He was named president in June 2010.

Over the past nine years as president, Mark has been a remarkable leader of his staff and our association. In my opinion, TCIA would not be where it is today without Mark’s leadership and dedication to our membership. His accomplishments over this time are too many to list.

But, I will give you one example.

Mark presented to the board a concept for the Arborist Safety Training Institute. This was a novel idea in how to get smaller companies not involved in our association the safety training that they were missing out on – for little or no cost. The future result would be a safer industry as a whole, lower insurance premiums, and raising the bar and professionalism for the industry nationwide.

The concept was great – the challenge was how to afford such an expansive and expensive idea.

Mark’s strategy for raising the funds was excellent. First, both the board members and Mark personally committed pledges to kick off the start of an endowment. Rather than going to our usual well of associate members for funds, Mark first hit the road and went to member tree care companies.

With a strong commitment from member companies as a base, he then went on tour again across the country to the associate members. In a little more than a year, he raised commitments of more than $2 million!

ASTI is now up and running with a perpetual endowment to keep safety training in the forefront across the country at a minimal cost to participants. This is a remarkable accomplishment for our industry, and we can thank Mark for his vision, financial commitment and fund-raising abilities.

Mark, we thank you for your 22 years of service. So, with that, I am pleased and honored, along with the Board of Directors, to present the Award of Merit to Mark Garvin.


Past winners

  • 2017 Tom Tolkacz
  • 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