August 11, 2020
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Since 1998, the Clinton Tree Committee has been advocating for the town’s treescape. Carol Geiser was a founding member of the committee and remains a driving force for many of the committee’s actions in town. Photo by Eric O’Connell/Harbor News

Since 1998, the Clinton Tree Committee has been advocating for the town’s treescape. Carol Geiser was a founding member of the committee and remains a driving force for many of the committee’s actions in town. (Photo by Eric O’Connell/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)

Carol Geiser: Speaking for the Trees

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Two dates that pop into the mind when people think of the arrival of spring are Earth Day and Arbor Day. As the weather gets warmer and winter finally releases its grip on the area, many people spend time outdoors working to spruce up their gardens and plants. What some Clinton residents might not realize is that there is a group of people who make this kind of work their mission year-round.

In 1997, Clinton didn’t yet have a tree ordinance governing planting, care, and removal of town-owned trees, so Clinton resident Carol Geiser set out to change that.

“I started the committee to protect town property and the street-side trees,” Carol says.

Carol says she took classes at Connecticut College to learn more about tree protection, then organized a group of people to get together to help maintain the trees. The group became an official committee in 1998.

“Our goals are to maintain the beauty of Clinton’s public spaces through strategic tree planting and educating the public on proper tree care,” according to the Clinton Tree Committee Facebook page.

“We want to educate the public on how important trees are to the overall environment,” Carol says. “I think people don’t realize the importance of trees and getting rid of carbon dioxide. People are always angry about the leaves on the ground, but the leaves help filter out some really bad stuff.”

Besides the educational and environmental aspects, Carol work with the committee to help beautify the town. Carol says it’s a goal of hers to show people the importance of the “urban forest,” which she defines as the trees along the sides of the roads and highways.

In addition to showcasing how beautiful real trees can be, Carol helps the committee stage an annual art show at the Henry Carter Hull Library, where the theme is “Trees of Connecticut.” Carol says the show has been held each November for the past 13 years.

“People are very creative in their art,” Carol says. “I learn all about the different mediums.”

Carol says some people who visit the art show by the creativity and variety of submissions the show receives.

“We found a little niche for ourselves,” Carol says.

One recent effort to help beautify the town and educate people was a celebration of Arbor Day on May 4. The event features the planting of a white oak at Town Hall and a tree tour of the trees around the property, for Pierson School students.

Of the opportunity to introduce young minds to the tree committee, Carol says “it’s a pleasure. I appreciate continual education,” says Carol.

Carol says she enjoys teaching the children how to plant and care for trees in the property method. Carol says the Arbor Day celebration has been held since 2001, and always features the planting of a tree on public grounds.

Serving on the Tree Committee has been a great opportunity, Carol says.

“I like seeing the enthusiasm of the people on the committee. Only people who really like trees are on the committee,” Carol says. “I’m very proud of the committee and the work they’ve done.”

While all committee members share a sense of purpose, they all bring a different set of skills to the committee. Carol’s forte is science—she grew up in Norwood, Ohio and attended Miami University in Ohio where she studied biology.

“I’ve been interested in all of this for a long time,” says Carol.

Carol, who has taught both biology and science, says she understood that science wasn’t always her student’s favorite subject, but she tried to make it interesting.

“I liked when they finally understood the lesson,” Carol says.

Carol eventually moved to Clinton in 1979 with her family.

While Carol enjoys her time on the committee, it doesn’t come without difficulties.

“Not everyone appreciates how important trees are and proper care,” says Carol.

Carol says that when planting a tree, its important to take into consideration the type of tree, how long its life expectancy is, and how large it will grow. As an example, Carol says the oak tree at Town Hall was put in its current location so that it has a large area to expand and won’t interfere with any wires in the area.

Besides the Arbor Day celebration and art show, Carol says the other big event the committee does during the year is a fundraiser in the summer, where donations are used to purchase a tree for the next year’s Arbor Day celebration. Carol says she’s also working on a guide for the for the different flowering trees in the area. Carol compares the different trees flowering at different times to being “like an orchestra, where one kind goes, then the next.”

In her spare time, Carol say she enjoys gardening and playing golf. She also enjoys visiting her three children, Jason Carlough, Garett Carlough, and Chadwick Carlough, and her grandkids.

Carol can see some of her love of nature rubbed off on her family. She recalls a time when one of her children was in the 5th grade and told her, “Mom, that’s just about enough,” as she had been talking about trees.

“Now he calls me and tells me about an interesting tree he’s seen!” she notes.

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