Community Spotlight: Jean Manki & Adopt-a-Tree
Jean Manki, retired nurse and Wellstar Hospice volunteer, first got involved with the Smyrna Tree Board as a concerned citizen when development increased in her Forest Hills neighborhood.
“I’m very much a tree hugger,” she says. “It was breaking my heart to see trees coming down left and right. I wanted to become more active and proactive in protecting the trees.”
Eventually, Jean was asked to join the Tree Board as Ward 6 representative, and currently, she serves as the chair.
The Smyrna Tree Board’s mission is to “provide education, communication, and advice to the City of Smyrna and its citizens of the benefits of a healthy and flourishing urban forest canopy to enhance the quality of life within our ecosystem.”
Once on the Board, Jean became aware of Keep Smyrna Beautiful’s Adopt-a-Tree program. “During a KSB Garden Tour, [KSB volunteer and former board member] Eric Dennis had a bunch of trees at the Reed House,” she said. “I was so impressed with his dedication to trying to save these trees.”
Adopt-a-Tree rescues small or young trees from properties slated for development or that are no longer wanted by a homeowner. The program also disseminates trees leftover from community events like Bring One for the Chipper. These trees are matched with community members, organizations, and schools at no cost.
Over the years, KSB and the Tree Board have collaborated to get the word out about the program and get trees adopted. In 2021, the partnership deepened. In addition to connecting trees to Smyrna residents, the Tree Board is now working with the City of Smyrna to identify in advance potential developments where trees can be rescued. This will give Eric and the other Adopt-a-Tree volunteers a chance at saving even more trees.
Last year, Adopt-a-Tree adopted out 391 trees total. Jean personally adopted three trees, two of which are still thriving. “I have a very large lot,” she says, “and I decided to fill my backyard.”
This year, Adopt-a-Tree is continuing and expanding with both a need for residents to adopt trees and volunteers to help rescue trees.
As for Jean, she’s happy with how the program is growing. “It’s a very creative program. It really says a lot for the city and KSB that we’re trying to maintain the canopy to keep the city beautiful.
She adds, “It makes my heart glad when I see all those trees in their little buckets.”
To learn more about Adopt-a-Tree, adopt a tree, or sign up to volunteer, visit our Adopt-a-Tree page.
Photo: Jean Manki with one of her “adopted” trees.