“I’m still learning.” That’s how Dave Leonard, owner of Dave Leonard Tree Services in Lexington, Kentucky, approaches the business of forestry. His education began more than 40 years ago, when he graduated college with a degree in forestry and launched his own business. In the years since, Leonard has continued to learn, but he has also begun to teach, giving back to his community and the next generation of arborists.
In addition to running a successful tree care business, Leonard serves as a guest lecturer in forestry for Lexington’s University of Kentucky, where he’s also a consulting arborist. That connection with the university has led Leonard to hire many university students for his own business, further teaching them before they move on to start their own businesses. “I’ve been the start of many a tree care company,” he says.
Beyond the university, Leonard has served on the Lexington Tree Board for more than 30 years. In 1988, he helped to launch Lexington’s annual Arbor Day celebration. “Every Arbor Day that we’ve had here in Lexington, I’ve planted a tree,” Leonard says. “That’s more than 30 trees.”
Like those trees, the Arbor Day celebration has grown into a big deal. “We get 2,000 people to come to our arboretum each Arbor Day,” Leonard says. “That’s the most fun thing for me – celebrating the past and planting the future.”
This year, Leonard will ride in his 16th STIHL Tour des Trees, which raises money for the Tree Research and Education Endowment (TREE) Fund. Over the course of his rides, Leonard estimates that he has covered enough ground to go back and forth across the country three times, raising more than $50,000 for the TREE Fund. That money, as with all the money raised by Tour des Trees, goes toward the TREE Fund’s research grants, scholarships and educational programs.
Leonard considers himself “outspoken about trees.” With all of his education and experience, he has certainly earned the right to say what he will about trees. He and his eponymous business have grown deep roots in the Lexington community over the past several decades, but he still plans to learn more. For more information about Dave Leonard Tree Services, visit www.dlarborist.com.
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