An outdoor enthusiast and tree conservationist, Anthony Whittington has high hopes for his term as president of the Arkansas Urban Forestry Council.
Whittington, director of the Parks & Trails Department at the City of Hot Springs, started his two-year presidential term on July 1 after serving a year as vice president on the council.
“I see the importance of having trees in the urban setting, and I enjoying talking and educating the public about the environmental and health benefits of trees,” said Whittington about what fuels his participation on the council.
Allen Bates, urban forester for the city, was also appointed on July 1 for a two-year term as a member of the Board of Directors for the council. The 14-member board (13 elected directors and one ex officio appointed by the state forester) is made up of volunteers from all across the state who share a love of trees, a commitment to urban forestry and a spirit of dedicated advocacy.
The overall purpose of the Arkansas Urban Forestry Council is to increase public awareness of the benefits of Arkansas’ urban and community trees through public policy, networking, information and education. Activities of the council include hosting an annual Arbor Day Celebration at the State Capitol and the Natural State Tree Climbing Championships. The council also coordinates with a community each year through the Arkansas ReLeaf program in which efforts benefit tree plantings for public lands, environmental stewardship, tree education programs in public schools, or to assist communities participating in the Tree City USA program. Whittington said El Dorado will be the recipient city for this year’s tree plantings following the flooding that ravaged the area in 2018. The council also holds workshops throughout the year on various tree-related topics and is the state’s testing and certification body for the International Association of Arboriculture. For more information about the council, visit www.arkansastrees.org.
Whittington is a native of Hot Springs and a graduate of Lakeside High School. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Recreation and Park Management from Henderson State University in 2007. After graduation, he worked for the Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism for five years at Lake Ouachita State Park and Mount Nebo State Park. In 2011, he served as a county extension agent for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service. He was hired in June 2017 by the City of Hot Springs as the urban forester. After working a year in that role, he transitioned to director of Parks & Trails where he currently oversees the city’s 19 parks and more than five miles of trails, including the Hot Springs Creek Greenway Trail. He enjoys spending time with his wife, Heaven, and nine-year-old son, Zak, as well as mountain biking, kayaking and fishing.