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Evaluating the Outcomes of Neighborhood Urban Forestry: Research with Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Inc. (KIB)

In the spring of 2011, Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Inc. – a nonprofit tree planting and urban greening organization in Indianapolis and Marion County, Indiana – approached Burney Fischer about evaluating the success of KIB’s neighborhood tree planting programs. Burney and PhD students Jess Vogt and Sarah Mincey, and then-MPA/MSES student Matt Patterson designed a project to determine the survival and growth of trees planted through KIB’s NeighborWoods program, and, in particular, examine the relationship between tree planting and neighborhood collective action. During the summer of 2011, Jess and Sarah developed and tested a planted tree re-inventory protocol (see link below) that was adapted from the Urban Forestry Data Standards (http://www.unri.org/standards) and informed by the SES Framework (Ostrom 2009) and Clark et al. (1997) model of Sustainable Urban Forestry (see Urban Forests as Social-Ecological Systems). This protocol was created for use by high school students with help from Jennifer Swilik, IUB SPEA undergraduate and KIB Youth Tree Team Leader. In the summer of 2012, four high school members of KIB’s Youth Tree Team were trained in data collection methods and supervised in the field by Jennifer as they collected data on a total of over 800 trees planted between 2006 and 2009 in 25 Indianapolis neighborhoods. Jess and Sarah also interviewed neighborhood leaders in 19 of these neighborhoods to get information about the experience of the people in the neighborhood and about watering strategies implemented to maintain trees.

Currently, we are working on publications using this data. Most recently, Jess and Shannon presented results of survival and growth models at the Association of SPEA PhD Students Annual Conference, and are currently working on a manuscript.

Project Documents

Funding and Support

  • School of Public and Environmental Affairs, IUB
  • Garden Club of America Urban Forestry Fellowship (awarded to Jessica Vogt in 2012 and 2013)
  • Efroymson Family Fund (PIs: Fischer, Vogt & Mincey; 2011-2013: $17,500)
  • BUFGR is grateful to the team at KIB for their help in making this project possible: Jerome Delbridge, Nate Faris, Dave Forcell, Andrew Hart, Bob Neary, and Molly Wilson, as well as the entire KIB staff.


  • IU News Room press release from 2012 ESA Meeting presentation: “Ecological Society of America annual meeting draws more than 30 IU scientists as presenters,” August 6, 2012.
  • See a YouTube video from the August 2012 Public Participation in Scientific Research conference, with footage of Jess talking about the research at 1:09.


Mincey, S.K. & J.M. Vogt. The influence of watering strategy on collective action and survival and growth of community-planted trees. (Manuscript in revision for Arboriculture & Urban Forestry)

Conference Proceedings

Vogt J.M. and S.L Watkins. 2013. Modeling urban tree growth and survival as social-ecological systems. Association of SPEA PhD Students Conference, March 29, 2013, Bloomington, IN. (Oral Presentation and Conference Paper)

Vogt, J.M., M. Wilson, & J. Swilik. 2012. Engaging high school students in urban tree growth research. National Workshop on Public Participation in Scientific Research, August 3-4, 2012, Portland, OR. (Poster Presentation and Conference Proceedings)

Vogt, J.M., S.K. Mincey, & B.C. Fischer. 2012. Evaluating the biophysical and social results of Keep Indianapolis Beautiful’s urban tree plantings as a social-ecological system. Life on Earth: Preserving, Utilizing and Sustaining our Ecosystems: 97th Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America, August 5-10, 2012, Portland, OR. (Oral Presentation and Conference Proceedings)

Vogt, J.M., S.K. Mincey, M. Patterson & B.C. Fischer. 2012. Predicting urban tree success: Establishment, maintenance, growth and condition of neighborhood-initiated tree plantings. International Society of Arboriculture 2012 Annual International Conference and Trade Show, August 11-15, 2012, Portland, OR. (Oral Presentation and Conference Proceedings)

Vogt, J.M., S.K. Mincey, M. Patterson, & B.C. Fischer. 2012. Predicting urban tree success: Modeling tree growth in neighborhood-initiated tree plantings. Disturbed Environments - Ecological Impact & Management: Mid-Atlantic Chapter, Ecological Society of America, Annual Meeting, April 14-15, 2012, Blacksburg, VA. (Poster Presentation)

Vogt, J.M., S.K. Mincey, M. Patterson, & B.C. Fischer. 2012. Predicting survival, growth, and condition of community-planted street trees in Indianapolis, IN. Women in Science Research Conference 2012, March 9, 2012, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN. (Poster Presentation)

Vogt, J.M., S.K. Mincey, & B.C. Fischer. 2011. Establishment & Growth of Community-Planted Street Trees in Indianapolis, IN: Presentation of a Data Collection Methodology and Preliminary Results. Urban Tree Growth: An International Meeting & Research Symposium, September 12-13, 2011, The Morton Arboretum, Lisle, IL. (Poster Presentation and Conference Proceedings)

Literature Cited on this page

Clark, J.R., Matheny, N.P., Cross, G., Wake, V., 1997. A model of urban forest sustainability. Journal of Arboriculture 23(1), 17-30.

Ostrom, E. 2009. A general framework for analyzing the sustainability of social-ecological systems. Science 325: 419-422.