MORRISTOWN, NJ - Dr. Thomas Ombrello, Professor of Biology at Union County College, has received an Annual Award from The Friends of The Frelinghuysen Arboretum, at the organization’s annual meeting on Sunday, June 10, 2018. The Annual Award is given to an individual who has made a significant contribution to the world of horticulture. The award was presented by Sally Hemsen, Awards Chair, on behalf of the Friends.
She stated that “We honor Dr. Ombrello for his contributions as an educator, a scientist, a historian, and an inspiration to others.”
Over the last twenty-three years, Dr. Ombrello has propagated seeds from hundreds of historic trees nationwide. The seeds were collected at the homes of presidents and other notable figures, from battlefields and historic sites, and from trees that are the oldest of their kind. After nurturing them in the greenhouse and field nursery, Dr. Ombrello selected the best offspring for the Historic Tree Grove at the Union County College campus in Cranford, NJ, which he established in 1995. Over the years, Dr. Ombrello has shared hundreds of extra seedlings with schools, Scout groups, and other public institutions. In recent years, Dr. Ombrello has focused on trees with significance to New Jersey history. He has written “A Guide to UCC's Historic Tree Project,” a booklet that is updated and reprinted annually.
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In 2017, Dr. Ombrello received recognition for donating a 20’ White Oak from the Historic Tree Grove to replace the 600-year oak that was taken down at the Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church. The young oak is a direct descendent of the historic tree, propagated by Dr. Ombrello from an acorn collected at the church.
As a result of Dr. Ombrello’s work, future generations can walk through the Historic Tree Grove at Union County College and gain an appreciation of science, of history, of the value of trees to our environment and landscape. The Grove is located near the Observatory on UCC’s Cranford campus, and is open to the public.
The Friends of the Frelinghuysen Arboretum is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to promote public awareness of horticulture and the natural world through sponsorship of projects and educational opportunities; and to further the development of the horticulture and research facilities at the Morris County Park Commission’s horticultural sites. The Friends sponsor many educational programs and events, which are open to the public and can be found on their website at www.arboretumfriends.org.