Great American Tree Competition

This year’s Great American Tree competition had some absolutely beautiful nominations, many of which exemplify this year's theme of unique fall color. Our top five trees with the most member votes were Bessemer City’s Cedar Tree, Largest Tree in Arkansas, White Oak of Wisconsin, Rancho Cucamonga’s Live Oak, and Ginkgo of Agnes Scott College.

Click a photo below to learn more about each unique entry.

Jackson Park Hackberry

Location: Jackson Park, Colorado Springs, CO

Species: Hackberry

Size: Approximately 20 feet tall

"The tree I am submitting is special because it was the subject of a year-long project I call “Same Tree, Different Day.” I photographed the tree every day for a year between January 12, 2015 and January 11, 2016 from my back yard, which provided a perspective that only I had. I posted at least one photo each day to my blog. By the way, I was not aware of last year’s winner until someone pointed it out to me last fall.

The project started out as an exercise in creativity, allowing me to see the same subject differently every day. My initial goal was to create a unique photo each day, which I was able to accomplish, but I soon started to realize a certain connection to the tree in a way that made me feel that the forces of nature were working with me help me capture incredible photographs and teach me a number of valuable life lessons.

For example, I had a tall pine tree in my yard that partially blocked my view from inside my home of the park and the hackberry tree. The pine tree was knocked over in a storm a few months into the project, and was the only one that fell in my entire condo complex. After it fell, my view of the tree in the park was completely unobstructed. It felt to me as if the Universe was saying that it like what I was doing and was helping me by giving me a better view. I share several similar stories that seem to be far more than mere coincidences whenever I lecture about this project.

Here are the things that I’ve learned as a result of this project that I talk about in my lectures:

  • This project has allowed me to be able to see things differently. I knew of the existence of this tree, but never looked at it the way I did once I started photographing it. Dr. Wayne Dyer often said, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” This project proved his point.
  • The importance of our trees and parks is illustrated in the images that I captured, showing how people, birds, dogs and other animals interact with it.
  • I used a particular method to stay motivated and keep on track. Through this method, which I describe fully in my lectures, I am able to teach people how to develop habits and reach their goals.
  • This project is an excellent example of how having a good sense of awareness or living in the moment has its benefits. If you view the photos taken throughout the course of the year, you are treated to wonderful moments that people often miss because they are too busy to pay attention to what is going on around them.
  • Many photographers feel they need to travel to far-off lands to capture great images. This project proves that isn’t true, because I literally made every photo from my back yard. Also, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia about 10 years ago. One of my first concerns was whether I could continue to do creative work through photography if I got to the point where I was unable to walk. I proved to myself and to others that this was true.
  • Because of this work, I am able to inspire others to engage in similar projects, view their lives differently, and start working towards goals they previously felt weren’t achievable.
  • This project gave me something to look forward to every day. Dealing with fibromyalgia as well as depression and chemical sensitivities, makes life difficult. Having a goal to work towards each day was very important for my physical and mental health. I share this experience with those who struggle with similar limitations.
  • I feel that because of what I accomplished, I have found my voice and now have something I can use to help people in many different ways.
  • The most profound thing I learned is that the Universe provided me with what I needed, when I needed it. With enough patience I was given the things that were necessary to create unique images every day, and all I had to do was basically show up and pay attention. This lesson can be applied to all aspects of daily life.

On April 15, 2016 I hosted an Arbor Day celebration and debuted the slideshow I made that contains all of the photos I posted to my blog. This event was a collaboration between me, the Trails and Open Space Coalition, the Pikes Peak Library District, the Council of Neighbors and Organizations, the City of Colorado Springs Therapeutic Recreation Program, The Colorado Springs Conservatory and Jay Billups Creative Magazine. Students from the Colorado Springs Conservatory composed the soundtrack for the slideshow, and each event partner was given the opportunity to talk about their mission.

Because of this project, I have touched the lives of hundreds of people in a positive way and will continue to do so for years to come. All of this is the result of one person’s interaction with a single tree. That is what makes this tree unique."

Submitted by: Mike Pach

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  • What a Hackberry, great tree!
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2016's Winner

The Largest Tree in Arkansas, a champion bald cypress, was voted The 2016 Great American Tree.