Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Feature Interview: Ben Cohoon of The Arbor Day Foundation

As a follow up to our Book Review of What Tree Is That? by the Arbor Day Foundation, I have invited Ben Cohoon, Manager of the What Tree Is That? project, to join us for a brief interview.

JB: Greetings and thank you for joining us for an interview at Arboreality! I just published a review of your latest book, What Tree Is That? Could you tell us what motivated the Arbor Day Foundation to publish this book?

BC: We were motivated by our members. Our members sincerely love trees but many of them were having a difficult time identifying individual trees. We decided that creating a simple to use, step-by-step guide was the best method to help them discover more about trees.

JB: I believe that it is important for people to be able to identify common plants and animals where they live. What benefits does the Arbor Day Foundation hope to provide by helping people learn tree identification?

BC: Our mission is to inspire people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees and having people identify and understand trees helps them to appreciate trees even more and potentially helps them maintain trees. An additional benefit that the book provides is the potentially invasive species guide, this section allows individuals to determine if a tree that is growing is invasive. If it is determined that a tree is not in the right place, then the individual should consider trying to remove it.

JB: What suggestions would you give to parents /educators who would like to teach tree identification to kids?

BC: Play a game. Choose a few trees that you can easily identify and then allow the kids to try to figure out the answer. Everyone loves a mystery and if you can do it outside it’s a win for everyone.

JB: Apart from just getting out into the woods, what are some other ways that the Arbor Day encourages people to get excited about trees?

BC: Planting trees is always a great way to appreciate trees. But if you stop to think about all the benefits that trees provide us from food, clean air, clean water… it is hard not to get excited about trees. This video is my favorite.

JB: What advice would you give to people who get comfortable with What Tree Is That? and want to learn more about trees, or get more involved with conservation efforts?

BC: has a lot of great information on it otherwise many local communities have great non-profit tree planting groups where you could get involved in planting trees in your community. Visit for list of non-profit tree planting groups. The next serious step once you become comfortable with What Tree is That? is to consider becoming a licensed Arborist.

JB: Ben, we thank you again for joining us, and we thank the Arbor Day Foundation for its tireless efforts in support of healthy trees and forests.

We wish to extend special thanks to the Greenleaf Book Group for making this interview possible.


Ben Cohoon is a Business Ventures Analyst and the Manager of the What Tree Is That? project. Ben has worked at the Arbor Day Foundation for nearly five years and has helped launch or create a number of mission-related projects, programs, or businesses. What Tree Is That? has been one Ben's favorite projects because the book is such a great introduction to the Foundation, it's easy to use, and it really works. Currently along with What Tree Is That? Ben Cohoon is working on Tree Store, Arbor Day Coffee and Hazelnut Consortium

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