Joan and Mike Diggs

JOAN AND MIKE DIGGS are from a western Chicago suburb called Burr Ridge, a Tree-City-USA-awarded village named after the burr oak. Whether rooted in their hometown pride, through hiking, “glamping” or simply taking in the scenery around them, the Diggs make it a point to incorporate nature into their lives.

“We have been blessed all of our lives to live within a 15-minute drive from the Cook County Forest Preserve, which features several lakes, abundant wildlife and birds of every species,” they say.

For both Joan and Mike, their love and appreciation of nature goes back to their childhood experiences.

“From the age of 12, me and my buddies would ride our bikes to the nearest forest preserve lake for fishing, swimming and exploring,” Mike says.

While some of Joan’s fondest childhood memories are of vacationing in the outdoors.

“When I was a teenager, my parents took us to Steamboat Springs, Colo. to ski and to stand on top of a mountain and revel in the beauty.” Joan says. “The scent of a pine forest in the winter is amazing!”

Although the Diggs have always been cognizant of the close connection between the health of the forest and the overall health of the planet, learning about the devastation of forests around the globe served as a wakeup call for them to take action. Living through the acid rain scare in the ‘70s, where emissions from Midwestern utilities caused damage to lakes and forests, made Joan and Mike realize that forest preservation is an urgent issue. Learning more recently about the pests and diseases that have been harming trees reminded the Diggs that they must continue to fight for forests.

So, when Father’s Day 2015 was just around the corner, Joan knew exactly what to get her husband, Mike. In lieu of something more traditional, Joan and her two daughters decided to give the Gift of Trees, the perfect present given the family’s long history of loving forests.

“How could you pass up an organization that is willing to plant 200 trees in my name on the side of mountain?” Mike says.

Since then, the Diggs have continued to plant trees with American Forests, becoming Sequoia Circle members following their participation on American Forests’ trip to Rocky Mountain National Park in the fall of 2016.

While the Diggs believe that, while it is ultimately up to Mother Nature to run her course, they are committed to protecting and restoring our forests for the health of us all.

“Trees produce oxygen, and we all need oxygen to live! The overall health of the planet is dependent upon the health of the forest,” they say.