Tree Foundation Inc
2381 Fruitville Rd
Sarasota FL 34237
Mission: TREE pursues Tree Research, Exploration and Education.  Vision: To sponsor education and conservation projects to conserve and protect both local and global trees and forest ecosystems.
CEO/Executive Director Margaret Lowman Ph.D.
Board Chair Gerri Aaron
Board Chair Affiliation Aaron Foundation
General Info
Tax Exempt Status Public Supported Charity
Incorporation Year 1999
State Charitable Solicitations Permit Yes Sept 2018
State Registration Yes 0
Financial Summary
Note: Revenue includes the value of in-kind contributions/donations
IRS Letter of Determination
IRS Letter of DeterminationView
Impact Statement
Our major projects include:
  1.  Construction and maintenance of the Myakka Canopy Walkway in Sarasota FL, North America's first-ever treetop walk. This nature adventure has tripled the visitorship to a Florida state park in a decade where nature activities are declining; has inspired thousands of local school children to love science; and has created an enormous economic boost to the community based on the national and global marketing of this ecotourism venture.
  2. Conservation of the forests of Ethiopia, serving as the only western organization with an MOU (memorandum of understanding) with the Ethiopian Coptic Church leadership for purposes of environmental education and forest conservation of the country's last 5% forests. This global effort was recently recognized by the world's biodiversity expert, Professor EO Wilson of Harvard University, in his latest book, Half Earth, where he celebrates the importance of TREE's work to save the precious Ethiopian forests.
  3. Environmental education both local and global youth especially girls-in-science actions that range from school programs on forests and canopy science throughout Florida and USA, to book distributions to girls in developing countries about environmental and forest topics, to co-sponsoring forest conferences (e.g. Forest Canopy Conference in London in 2016, Women in Science Summit in California, etc); and web resources that serve a global student audience of over 3 million annually. Our latest project is to fund, distribute and sponsor a film called "A Woman Who Climbs Trees," a documentary about a canopy scientist that is being produced by Ringling School of Art and Design's top prize-winning film student, Puja Kolluru.
  4. Publications including books about forest canopies, a children's book published in Amharic for Ethiopian children, Spanish sections on our website, and media dissemination in Australia, India, Congo, Ethiopia, Peru, and many other countries with valuable forest landscapes.
  5. Global canopy walkway design and construction, offering the Myakka canopy walkway model to many countries including Bhutan, Malaysia, Peru, and Belize; as well as states, including Ohio and California. TREE's designs for canopy walkway construction and education tools is advancing global conservation, because countries with forests are eager to create canopy walkways that contribute to the economic base for indigeneous peoples, but without cutting down the trees.
 Goals for 2017 include:
  1. Ramping up our children's book distribution to double the books for Ethiopian children (especially girls) and create a version for Malaysian youth.
  2. Expand our global canopy walkway model to complete the projects in Bhutan and Malaysia,  using the Florida methodology and outreach.
  3. Continue to expand our social media, creating web presence in new languages for global outreach: Malay and also Bhutanese; and add to our portfolio of education materials.
  4. Create virtual expeditions for middle school children both local and global, partnering with the (former) Jason Project and also creating a YouTube series partnering with Untamed Science videographers.
  5. Oversight to a rain forest conservation program in Malaysia, including both education and research components. 
Needs Statement
  1. Maintenance & education at Myakka walkway in Florida plus new walkways proposed in Mozambique & Malaysia. Seek $20 K to promote forest conservation on our website, which attracts > 3million hits/yr.
  2. Ethiopian Forest Conservation - donations for stone walls to delineate to protect the last remaining 5% of Ethiopian forests. Seek $250 K to complete the conservation of Ethiopia's 28 most important forests (we are halfway there!) and insure the legacy of an entire country's biodiversity.
  3. Myakka State Park Walkway - Print 20,000 brochures for kids; this treetop walk has tripled visitorship to this state park. Seek $5 K for post-Irma hurricane repairs, and $100 K for Florida science programs and celebration of biodiversity to celebrate walkway's 20th birthday in 2020.
  4. Environmental education-- scholarships for students (including our flagship program for wheelchair students to undertake canopy research); scholarships for students in developing countries to study in USA, and funding for summer interns to work with TREE in forests around the world; forest canopy research  by students and faculty around the world, including the sponsorship of conferences and social media disseminated to diverse stakeholders  both local and global. Raised $50,000 in 2017 to fund the Jason Project for middle school virtual-science-expeditions in Malaysia. Seek $20,000 to complete the documentary film A Woman Who Climbs Trees (already 2/3 of its $75,000 has been completed) produced and directed by Puja Kolluru (Ringling School of Art and Design's top award-winning film student of 2017).
  5. Sponsorship of nature-based activities for kids and families in Florida. Seek $100,000 to sponsor a Sarasota "Town Hall" for youth to hear science talks: Bob Ballard, Jane Goodall, Sylvia Earle and a few others in 2020. 
Background Statement
The TREE Foundation was founded in 1999 to oversee the construction of America's first-ever public canopy walkway, so that donations and construction could all be under the umbrella of a non-profit. The project was so successful that TREE expanded to oversee walkway construction in almost 24 different locations around the world, plus education programs about trees to accompany different regions where forest conservation is an urgent priority. These walkways provide a unique conservation model because they provide income without cutting down trees, and also advance the education and sense of wonder for visitors about forests, leading to a stronger sense of nature exploration and forest conservation. TREE now serves as an important center for global information about forests, forest conservation, and our website has education materials in 3 languages (ramping up to 4 this year). We also distribute educational materials to children around the world -- ranging from kids' books about trees (written in native languages), tee-shirts featuring local pollinators, and workshops for diverse stakeholders of forests. In Ethiopia, for example, we host workshops for the Orthodox christian priests who are the local stewards of small forest patches. TREE continues to expand services that both educate children and families about the importance of forests, and specific strategies (such as canopy walkways, sponsorship of conferences, etc) that directly contribute to forest conservation. We our both local (in the state of Florida) and global, with activities in all remaining major forest types around the globe. We are proud partners with the Jason Project that conducts virtual expeditions around the globe for middle school children. We will be conducting a Jason Expedition in Malaysia during 2017, reaching 3 millions kids or more, including throughout Florida. 
Areas Served
Areas Served
FL- Manatee
FL- Sarasota
Areas Served Comments TREE has its origin and focus on serving Florida -- to build canopy walkways and treehouses, to get children and families out into nature, to conserve forests through economics, and to develop innovative environmental education tools. The enormous success of our Florida activities has inspired a global expansion of our TREE activities. We now work both locally and globally, taking our portfolio of environmental outreach through canopy walkways and platforms to both national and global locations. TREE has inspired canopy walkways in over 20 locations, and now has environmental education outreach for nature-study in several countries as well as throughout the USA. We host scholars from developing countries, especially girls, to study forests and return home as leaders in their villages. We also teach girls how forests provide pollinators for their crops, fresh water, soil, medicines, food, shelters, shade, air, and climate control -- critical aspects of survival.
Service Categories
Primary Org Type Environment
Secondary Org Type Education
Tertiary Org Type Science & Technology
Statement from the Board Chair/Board President
We are dedicated to making the world a better place for our children and grandchildren. There is no other globally more urgent mission than conserving forests -- some 50% are already degraded or destroyed. Forests provide clean water, oxygen, store carbon, purified air, produce energy, offer medicines and foods and building materials to humans, conserve soil, house millions of species including pollinators of many crops, and offer a critical spiritual landscape to billions of people. We do not invest in a building or staff, but dedicate our donations to creative and innovative programs that ultimately conserve forests both local and global.We recognize that enormous funds for the social and medical welfare of children will not succeed unless global forests are conserved, because they provide the over-arching essential ingredients for human health.
Statement from the CEO/Executive Director

Vision – that the next generation will have the benefits of sustainable forests both locally and globally. Whenever I visit the Myakka State Park canopy walkway, there is usually a line, and overhead I can hear enthusiastic voices of children saying "Mom, I can see forever from up here!" The experience of walking through the Florida treetops is not only a vivid science lesson, but it also creates a sense of wonder and stewardship in our next generation. TREE Foundation provided this unique experience for Florida kids, as a global first; and now we are ramping up to make this opportunity available through North America and also internationally. Recently, I met one of the only conservation biologists from northern Ethiopia, who was single-handedly trying to save his country's forests. With TREE's support, we now have 50% of northern Ethiopia's most important forests conserved; and even more important, we have the support and blessing of the local people, since we have wisely partnered with local church leadership to convey our messages of the importance of forest conservation. Many women and children will live healthier in Ethiopia, because their forests provide essential services to keep them healthy, in particular fresh water and all-important pollinators. Without healthy forests, healthy humans can not persist on this planet. Plain and simple. Our mission is not only to save remaining critical forests, but also to educate people about the importance of these forests. It takes a long time to re-grow an old growth forest, but only a day to cut them down. Our work is dedicated to the healthy and well-being of the next generation. 


Who we are – a non-profit devoted to environmental education of citizens about trees and the ecosystem services they provide to human health, and on-the-ground conservation actions to conserve forests around the globe


Core competency – We leverage our expertise, professionals, and partnerships to inspire global actions through research, education and partnerships for global forest conservation; and we engage local actions through environmental education programs, especially for youth.



Diversity – TREE focuses on programs that are inclusive of many ages, cultures, and geographic regions, with special attention to inclusivity of local, Florida-based audiences; and uses diverse outreach technologies to disseminate our messages.

Outreach – TREE prioritizes education outreach to families, policy-makers, and youth as a core value for all programs.

Passion – TREE is passionate to inspire forest conservation and serve as a catalyst for environmental solutions.

Sensitivity – TREE works with a small environmental and economic footprint, and respects the values and views of other cultures in all aspects of our work.

Sustainability – TREE seeks sustainable solutions to forest conservation through its education and exploration programs. We aspire to leave the world a better place for the next generation.

As an outdoor laboratory for research and education, it is a place for discovery and opportunity for visitors to Myakka to see its canopy inhabitants up close.  We have just revised the brochure.

The walkway is suspended 25 feet above the ground and extends 85 feet through the hammock canopy. A tower soars 74 feet in the air to present a spectacular view of treetops, wetlands, and the prairie/hammock interface. Visitors can look down on eagles, hawks, vultures, and other birds in flight.

Budget $25,000
Category Environment, General/Other Environmental Education
Program Linked to Organizational Strategy Yes
Population Served Families Children and Youth (0 - 19 years) Adults
Short Term Success
Third and fifth graders continue to conduct scientific research at the site, monitoring the health of Florida epiphytes against insect pest invasions.

Long Term Success
  • Park visitors experience easy access to observe life in the treetops of an oak/palm hammock.
  • The walkway provides an outdoor laboratory for scientific research .
Program Success Monitoring
A "people counter" has been installed to collect valuable data on visitorship.
Program Success Examples
This note was received with a recent donation: " memory of my beloved twin sister who loved Myakka".
The ecology of Ethiopia is vastly understudied and also degrading rapidly due to human activities. These church forests comprise local as well as global “hotspots” as critical conservation areas for a large portion of Ethiopia’s remaining biodiversity. Vegetation surveys of church forests indicate that church forests house a large proportion of the endangered plant species of Ethiopia. Church forests provide important ecosystem services to local people, including fresh water, pollinators, honey, shade, and spiritual value. In January 2009, Tree Foundation forged a partnership with the Christian Orthodox clergy to conserve their church forests.

Preliminary estimates indicate that these last remaining forests could disappear in ten years time. We not only need to measure the shrinking forests and their biodiversity treasure-troves, but also to help the local people reverse this critical loss which would essentially make it impossible for their children to survive.
Budget $55,000
Category Environment, General/Other Natural Resources Conservation & Protection
Program Linked to Organizational Strategy Yes
Population Served Africa Families
Short Term Success
12 kilometers of stone walls, built by local people, around two forests.
Long Term Success
Reversal of degradation of the remaining Ethiopian forests through perimeter delineation (fences/stone walls).
Program Success Monitoring
Measuring the size of the forests and their biodiversity; determining the loss reversal.
Program Success Examples
12 kilometers of stone walls, built by local people, around two forests.
A little girl by the name of Leysy inspired Carolyn Solomon’s interest in working with the Amazon Amigos project of the TREE Foundation to launch the Amazon Clean Water Campaign to construct two water treatment plants in the upper Amazon basin of northern Peru.
The rainforest and its people are inseparable. Preservation of the Amazon Rainforest is dependent on improving the health and well-being of Amazon children and families, who live in this extraordinary part of the world.  Unfortunately, development monies rarely reach this far into the jungle and it is largely overlooked by international aid organizations. Even the Peruvian government has, in large measure, forgotten these river people and their impact on the future of the Amazon Rainforest. CONAPAC is working to improve the education, conservation, and community leadership in the remote river villages in this area and we remain dedicated to assisting them with this mission.
Budget $15,000
Category Environment, General/Other Water Conservation
Program Linked to Organizational Strategy Yes
Population Served US& International Families Females
Short Term Success
Construct two cement water plants in 2013 in Amazon villages.
Long Term Success
Provide clean safe drinking water for Amazon villagers through the construction and maintenance of community water plants.
Program Success Monitoring
Graduate students from the University of Colorado visit each July to monitor the water purification plants.
Program Success Examples
In the spring of 2012, a new cement water plant was constructed by CONAPAC in the village of Leon Isla. The plant is identical to the two that Amazon Amigos is sponsoring and will serve 350-400 people per day.
Description We are partnering with the Jason Project, to be virtual expeditions to middle school kids throughout USA, especially Florida and Texcas, to learn about rain forests. We will "visit" Malaysia this October, and kids will learn how scientists work in the remote jungles. We will offer online education activities associated with these broadcasts, that kids can easily access in their classrooms or online. 
Budget $50,000
Category Education, General/Other Distance Education
Program Linked to Organizational Strategy Yes
Population Served Children and Youth (0 - 19 years) US& International
Short Term Success
 1. To provide life-streaming from the jungles of Malaysia to middle schools in North America.
2. To take a team of teachers and middle school students to Malaysia to execute this broadcast.
3. To reach at least 3 millions kids via virtual expeditions.  
Long Term Success
To conduct an annual Jason Learning expedition
To get five years of funding for this program
To reach 15 million middle school youth over 5 years. 
Program Success Monitoring
Online metrics
Execution of the expedition
Teacher evaluations
Student evaluations 
Program Success Examples
Getting feedback from teachers with glowing reports
Hearing from kids who enjoyed seeing role model-scientists in their work.
Having teachers comment that the NGSS (next generation science standards) were achieved with our programs. 
Program Comments by Organization
Check out the myriad testimonials on our website! 
CEO/Executive Director
CEO/Executive Director Margaret Lowman Ph.D.
CEO Term Start Oct 1999
CEO/Executive Director Email

As a global forest scientist, Meg was recruited by both the North Carolina Nature Research Center and then the California Academy of Sciences to re-invent and re-vitalize relevant science for these museums, to include cutting-edge research and sustainability and recruit minorities for the scientific staff. She is a writer, explorer, speaker, role model for women and minorities in field biology, and pioneer of forest canopy research. Meg works both in Florida and around the globe to advance forest conservation and uncover the secrets of forest health.

 She has served as Vice President of the Ecological Society of America; Treasurer of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation; Executive Director of the TREE Foundation; Board of Directors for The Explorers Club and Earthwatch; and former Climate Change Adviser to Alex Sink, CFO of the Florida cabinet. Previously, Meg has served as Director of Environmental Initiatives at New College of Florida, CEO of The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, and Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies at Williams College.
Meg’s academic training includes Williams College (BA, Biology); Aberdeen University (MSc, Ecology); Sydney University (PhD, Botany); and Tuck School of Business (Executive Management).
Former CEOs/Executive Directors
Senior Staff
Staff & Volunteer Statistics
Full Time Staff 0
Part Time Staff 1
Staff Retention Rate % N/A
Professional Development Yes
Contractors 0
Volunteers 125
Management Reports to Board Yes
CEO/Executive Director Formal Evaluation No
Senior Management Formal Evaluation N/A
Non-Management Formal Evaluation N/A
North Carolina State University, Myakka River State Park, Historic Spanish Point, Ethiopian Coptic Church, Colby College, Heinz Foundation, Ecological Society of America, Amazon Center for Tropical Studies, Jimma University, Fulbright, National Science Foundation, Triad Foundation, Boys and Girls Club, Girls Inc. , Sarasota County school district, The Habitat (Malaysia), Gorongosa Nat Park (Mozambique), Jason project. 
External Assessments and Accreditations
Awards & Recognition
Vision AwardGirls Incorporated1999
Creative constructionAmerican Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboreta2002
Risk Management Provisions
Government Licenses
Organization Licensed by the Government No
Fundraising Plan No
Communication Plan No
Strategic Plan No
Strategic Plan Years N/A
Strategic Plan Adopted 0
Management Succession Plan No
Continuity of Operations Plan No
Nondiscrimination Policy No
Whistle Blower Policy No
Document Destruction Policy No
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy No
Policies and Procedures No
Multi-Media Comments by Organization See many updates on
Board Chair
Board Chair Gerri Aaron
Company Affiliation Aaron Foundation
Board Term Oct 1999 to Jan 2020
Board Chair Email
Board Members
Board Members
Gerri Aaron Community Volunteer
Alemayehu Ashete Research Associate
Dan Bennett Community Volunteer
Barb Lausche environmental law
Michael R. Pender CPACavanaugh & Co, LLP
Laura Peters Community Volunteer
DC Randle African-American educator role model
Joanne Spurlino Community Volunteer
Bryson Voirin Student forest researcher/media star
Constituency Includes Client Representation No
Board Ethnicity
African American/Black 2
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 6
Hispanic/Latino 1
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0 0
Board Gender
Male 3
Female 6
Unspecified 0
Board Term Lengths 20
Board Term Limits 99
Board Orientation Yes
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 1
Board Meeting Attendance % 88
Board Self-Evaluation Yes
Written Board Selection Criteria No
Board Conflict of Interest Policy Yes
% of Board Making Monetary Contributions 80
% of Board Making In-Kind Contributions 100
Governance Comments by Organization We are local and international by definition, so our challenge is to incorporate the international voice into our board through various (usually virtual) means. But the website has been an enormous catalyst for this type of information dissemination. Our second challenge is to educate our public about the importance of our environmental mission; in southwest Florida, over half of the philanthropy is devoted to social issues and of the other 50% over 45% goes to art and culture. In short, the very air and water (and trees) that comprise our living landscape are relatively under-funded. We humbly work to reverse these skewed proportions.
Current Year Projections
Tax Year Start Month July
Tax Year Start Day 01
Tax Year Begins 2016
Tax Year End Month June
Tax Year End Day 30
Tax Year Ends 2017
Projected Revenue $175,000.00
Projected Expenses $170,000.00
Total Projected Revenue includes "in-kind" contributions/ donations No
Organization has Endowment No
Capital Campaign
Currently In a Capital Campaign No
Campaign Purpose
Campaign Goal
Amount Raised To Date 0 as of 0
Audit/Financial Documents
Financial Review
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201720162015
Program Expense$114,777$108,751$111,997
Administration Expense$19,162$7,444$13,436
Fundraising Expense$0$0$0
Payments to Affiliates$0$0$0
Total Revenue/Total Expenses0.690.691.17
Program Expense/Total Expenses86%94%89%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue0%0%0%
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201720162015
Total Assets$137,789$178,972$216,597
Current Assets$134,917$178,972$216,597
Long-Term Liabilities$0$0$0
Current Liabilities$0$0$1,209
Total Net Assets$137,789$178,972$215,388
Top Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201720162015
Top Funding Source & Dollar AmountContributions, gifts, grants $92,427Contributions, gifts, grants $79,272Contributions, gifts, grants $146,048
Second Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountInvestment Income $329Investment Income $507Investment Income $558
Third Highest Funding Source & Dollar Amount0 $00 $00 $0
CEO/Executive Director Compensation $0 - $50,000
Tax Credits No
Short Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201720162015
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities----179.15
Long Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201720162015
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets0%0%0%
Financials Comments
Financial Comments by Organization We only spend funds for projects after the money has been raised. Period.
Financial Comments by Foundation Financial information taken from IRS Form 990-EZ.  Individual contributions include foundation and corporate support.
Nonprofit Tree Foundation Inc
Address 2381 Fruitville Rd
Sarasota, FL 34230
Phone 941 366-2983