As someone who has made the transition from League management to running TREE Fund, a major nonprofit focused on funding for international research and education programs in the field of arboriculture (the cultivation, management, and study of individual trees, shrubs, vines, and other perennial woody plants, in case you were asking), Janet Bornancin knows a lot about the power of the trained volunteer and the value of Junior League leadership training.

In fact, Janet was one of the founders of the Junior League of Kane & DuPage Counties, where she remains a Sustainer, and she attributes much of her success in nonprofit management to what she learned from League experiences. Like what? Well, how to assess if a community project met the mission of the League and if it was a good investment of the League’s funds and volunteer time, and how to train volunteers to be good board members, or how to use organizational development, as well as gaining management experience that made her feel more confident and competent. (Not to mention lifelong friendships!)
Janet moved directly from League work to nonprofit management, using her League skills to build what was a foundering human services agency into a sound organization now known as Teen Parent Connection, a Glen Ellyn, IL-based agency focused on support and education for teen mothers.

TREE Fund was a more complex and demanding assignment. For one thing, it has an international impact. TREE Fund’s focus is the conservation and preservation of trees in the “urban forest” – tree populations in urban and suburban settings – through research and education, and it is the only non-governmental group with this focus. Funds raised from corporate and individual sponsors and donors support scholarships for aspiring arborists, funding for scientific research into critical urban tree care issues, and funding for arboriculture education programs in schools

Success in fundraising is critical, given the breadth and depth of TREE Fund’s programs. Working with a small staff, Janet raised more than $1 million in 2012, including more than $600,000 from the group’s major annual fundraiser, the STIHL Tour des Trees, an annual 500 + mile cycling event that changes venue annually. The 2013 tour is a 585-mile route around Lake Ontario that showcases the historic trees, urban centers and favorite destinations of upstate New York and Ontario. (Unlike other biking events, however, key components of the Tour des Trees are tree plantings and community outreach.)

So what is Janet Bornancin doing for Earth Day? Keeping a lot of balls in the air – and you can help! To make a donation to help keep those balls moving, please click here. As they say at TREE Fund, Healthy Trees Are Rooted in Research. Now that’s a good message for Earth Day!