Joan Foglia always has been a fan of nature. She enjoys hiking, gardening, camping, bird-watching and just being outside.
“I love being in the outdoors,” Foglia said. “I loved being in the yard, but I didn’t know much about trees … when I joined.”
This love of the outdoors is something that made her fit in with the town of Windermere’s Tree Board, where she served for about 11 years. In that time, she’s been involved with planting hundreds of trees around town, and has learned more about them along the way.
She no longer serves as a board member, because she has to travel for work. However, she continues to stay active on the Tree Board as a volunteer. The Town Council honored her at its Jan. 8 meeting with an award for years of service.
“I met Theresa Myers, who is our chairman, when our daughters were in kindergarten together, and she told me about the Tree Board and asked if I’d be interested in joining,” Foglia said. “I was very interested, and I came to one of the meetings, and I decided I wanted to be part of it.”
Foglia has a background in accounting and works as a production accountant in the film and television industry. She currently is part of a production team filming the TV series, “David Makes Man,” which will be premiering on the Oprah Winfrey Network. Part of the show was filmed at a set built on the Dr. Phillips High School campus. Her background in accounting is one of the reasons she was asked to join the board, Foglia said.
“The real reason Theresa asked me to join was to manage the finances for the board when we have events,” she said.
Educating residents about the town’s tree canopy always has been a mission of the board. The board teaches residents about proper pruning, mulching, fertilization and even the best place to plant a tree, Foglia said.
“Really, the mission and the goal is to educate people in the town about the tree canopy and how precious it is and what an asset it is to the town and the importance of protecting, preserving and proliferating it,” Foglia said. ”We teach them where to plant the right tree in the right place — teach (residents) where to plant them in their yards.”
Foglia added educating residents about the town’s tree ordinance has been a challenge.
“(Some of) the residents in town, when they moved in, probably weren’t aware that there’s a tree ordinance that needs to be followed,” Foglia said. “Education is everything. And just because you don’t like the tree where it is, that doesn’t mean you have a right to take it down. You can’t just call a tree guy and have the tree taken out. You need to apply for a permit. You need to be granted a permit. … We’re trying to educate people about that (ordinance), as well.”
In addition to educating residents, Foglia said getting more people involved with the board also has posed as a challenge. She also said fundraising always has been a challenge.
“What we’re trying to do now is get more board members or volunteers or get the youth in town more involved to help with these activities,” Foglia said. “I think the biggest challenge is raising money for projects that we want to do. … We’re in the middle of coming up with new ideas of generating revenue for projects around town.”
Each year, the board hosts a clean-up of the town’s 1887 Schoolhouse as well as the Windermere Treebute.
“This year’s Treebute was just amazing,” Foglia said. “It’s a great event. Everybody was very happy. We had a lot more vendors. People were buying more trees, so I think it was very successful this year.”
Town Manager Robert Smith said Windermere is fortunate to have Foglia as part of its community.
“Joan is one of many heartbeats of the town,” Smith said. “We are blessed to have so many passionate residents willing to help out their family, neighbors and community. Joan has always been and will always be one of them.”