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 2016 registration form


September 20. Winners are announced at TCIA’s annual Winter Management Conference.

Current winner

Dennis Ryan honored with Award of Merit

Presented during TCIA's Winter Management Conference 2015 at Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

Text of the presentation by Jack Guffey, outgoing TCIA Board chair, at Winter Management Conference in February.

For our association’s highest honor – the Award of Merit – this year’s honoree’s contributions to the profession of arboriculture span many decades. From his early days as a commercial arborist while studying at Bristol Agricultural high school, to being the executive director of forestry and horticulture for the Parks Department for the City of New York, he has broad experience on the front lines of the industry.

This experience served as a backdrop for his academic career, which began in the 1970s teaching arboriculture part-time at the State University of NY Farmingdale. In 1983, he was selected to be the program coordinator of the Arboriculture/Urban Forestry Program at the University of Massachusetts.

In this capacity, he taught his students the science of arboriculture while providing them with experiences in the field. His past students include successful tree company owners, many of whom credit him for providing a comprehensive education in arboriculture and inspiration to become successful business owners. Some are here today.

In addition to contributions as a working arborist and educator, he is an active participant in arboricultural communities, ranging from local groups such as the Massachusetts Arborists Association, to prominent positions with the ISA Board of Directors and the ANSI Z-133 Arboricultural Safety Committee. Notably for this award, he served as the Chair of the ANSI Z-133 Committee for 15 years.

He crusaded for safe work practices in a time when it was not popular to do so.

He has also contributed to the field outside of classrooms and committees. As a public speaker, he has delivered countless lectures on arboriculture, and has written over 100 articles for publications such as TCI Magazine and Arborist News, allowing him to share his research and insights with colleagues and future arborists. A generation of arborists learned about trees – and running a tree care business – through his passionate, dedicated teachings.

These impressive accolades, his numerous contributions to the industry, make Dr. Dennis Ryan, professor of arboriculture and urban forestry at the University of Massachusetts, a worthy recipient of TCIA’s Award of Merit.

Past winners

  • 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