Forest ReLeaf of Missouri’s mission is to enrich communities by growing and planting trees through the power of people and partnerships.

This effort supports our vision of a more resilient tree canopy in Missouri’s communities that supports healthy people, healthy habitats and a healthy planet.

Meet Our Staff

Meridith McAvoy Perkins

Executive Director​

Jake Roeckle​

Nursery Manager​

Ellen Sulser ​

Volunteer Coordinator​

Billy Haag​

Forestry Manager​

Elijah Belz

Stewardship Technician

Rebecca Hankins​

Partnerships Manager​

Dan Billman

Nursery Specialist

Glore Ruiz

Engagement Specialist

Emily Halpin

Office Manager


Val Blandina

Education Specialist

Board of Trustees

Jason Pratte,  President
Forestry Manager, St. Louis County Parks

Joni Ott, Vice President
Retired Attorney

John Moller, Treasurer; Finance Committee Chair
Retired Financial Advisor

Tim Brunsman, Operations Committee Chair
Parks and Recreation Manager, Richmond Heights

Tom Jacobs
Environmental Program Director, Mid-America Regional Council

Alan Jankowski
Forestry Commission, City of St. Louis

Almetta Jordan
Natural Resources Manager, Missouri State Parks

Danny Moncheski, Education Committee Chair
Account Executive, Site One Landscape

Aisha Muhammad, Ex Officio
Community Forester, Missouri Department of Conservation

Sean Pluta
Associate, Polsinelli

George Satkowski
Assistant Vice President, Enterprise

Mary Sherfy, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee Chair
Retired, Marketing Professional

Jesse Stuart, Development and Marketing Committee Chair
Director of Operations, Crispy Edge

Sheila S. Voss
Director of Communication, Good Food Institute

Kara Ward
Associate Administrator, Barnes Jewish Hospital

Annual Report

Meridith McAvoy Perkins
Executive Director

For the past 20 years, Meridith McAvoy Perkins has dedicated her career to promoting healthy urban forestry management, connecting people to trees in ways that transform both landscapes and lives. She has previously served in the public sector as the Urban & Community Forestry Coordinator for Utah’s Division of Forestry, and in the private sector as a principal consultant for Davey Resource Group, Inc. Meridith has the technical skills to assess tree risk, develop urban forestry plans, and offer expert witness testimony but her favorite thing is sharing the amazing power of trees with others. In her current role as the Executive Director of Forest ReLeaf of Missouri, Meridith advocates for tree planting and forest conservation across the urban, rural, and wild landscapes. Meridith has a degree in Forestry from the University of Missouri-Columbia, is an ISA Certified Arborist, and is an adjunct instructor at Meramec Community College.

Jake Roeckle
Nursery Manager

Jake Roeckle joined the Forest ReLeaf team at the end of 2021. He has a Bachelors in Environmental Science from Southeast Missouri State University and a Horticulture Certificate of Proficiency from STLCC – Meramec. He has been in the horticulture industry for over 12 years, with more than half of that at Kirkwood Gardens, a retail and wholesale nursery in St. Louis County. Jake’s passion for growing plants, love of the outdoors, and nursery experience help him in the Nursery Manager role where he oversees the growing of quality trees and shrubs and assists with volunteer operations.

Ellen Sulser
Volunteer Coordinator

Ellen joined the Forest ReLeaf team in fall 2021. She graduated Smith College with a Bachelors in Environmental Science and Policy and a deep passion for connecting people with the places around them. Ellen has previously worked with the USDA Forest Service conserving wilderness areas across the country. She’s excited to take the lessons learned in community engagement and forestry back to the place she grew up. Ellen helps connect Forest ReLeaf volunteers to meaningful experiences that support both individual and organization goals.

Billy Haag
Forestry Manager

Billy Haag joined Forest ReLeaf in the spring of 2022. He received his Masters degree in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism from the University of Missouri. He has worked in a variety of park settings ranging from Kings Canyon National Park, Don Robinson State Park, and most recently with Forest Park Forever. All of which have allowed him to grow a strong passion for native ecosystems and connecting people to their local natural resources and green spaces.

Elijah Belz

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Rebecca Hankins
Partnerships Manager

After spending 16 years in the outdoor industry, Rebecca shifted her focus from outdoor recreation to environmental stewardship. She earned a Certificate of Proficiency in Horticulture at St. Louis Community College – Meramec. She has spent the last 3 years gaining experience in various organizations including Missouri Botanical Garden, Urban Harvest and DTLS Studio. She is passionate about plants and what they teach us about resiliency, diversity, partnership, and community. Rebecca will use her skills to grow Forest ReLeaf’s mission impact and advocate for social and environmental justice.

Dan Billman
Nursery Specialist

With 35 years in green industry wholesale and retail service, nursery production research, and teaching at Meramec Community College, Dan Billman brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Forest ReLeaf’s team. Additionally, Dan is an ISA certified arborist who loves to connect people to trees through guided tree walks and educational experiences. As the Nursery Specialist, Dan helps keep things running at the nursery and supports educational programming for the Forestkeepers and TreeKeepers Networks as well as regular volunteers, seasonal staff, and project participants.

Glore Ruiz
Equity and Engagement Specialist

Glore Ruiz is a SLU Environmental Studies student and a latina woman. Growing up in Honduras and rural Missouri allowed her to immerse herself in nature. My childhood was spent in my father’s favorite mountains and I spent most of high school working at a nearby state park. Seeing people find their passion and place in nature is truly amazing, and with Forest Releaf, she has been able to learn so much about environmental injustice and what we can do to help. Urban communities deserve their share of nature therapy and I believe creating that environment is incredibly valuable. She looks forward to graduating in fall 2023 and continuing in this important work.

Emily Halpin
Office Manager

Emily Halpin keeps the office running smoothly and provides administrative support for the team. With a degree in Business Administration and Finance from University of Missouri, Kansas City and a background in contract administration, project management, and human resources, Emily enables the Forest Releaf staff to thrive.

Val Blandina
Education Specialist

Val Blandina joined Forest ReLeaf in 2023, holding a Bachelor’s degree in Art Education from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Her passion for inspiring others to explore the natural world took root during her time at SIUE.  As an Arts Coordinator at a summer camp in the San Juan National Forest, she deepened her commitment to creative education, aiming to nurture curiosity and a lifelong love for learning, as well as a deeper connection with the environment and the outdoors. Val is dedicated to promoting the importance of trees and forest conservation in our communities through engaging and meaningful experiences.