Latest ‘Tree Story’ film from NASF profiles a bonafide tree hunter and his champion find

“Tree Hunter” shows just a few examples of how human stories become intertwined with those of trees in community and urban settings.

WASHINGTON—The National Association of State Foresters is pleased to present the third installment in its “Tree Stories” series, a collection of short films that illustrates the importance of the different—but equally valuable—bonds that people enjoy with trees.

Tree Hunter” follows Bob Sanfelippo, a retired urban forester, on his journey across his home state of Wisconsin searching for champion trees. One tree in particular, an American elm, catches Bob’s eye. Given the species’ storied past, Bob is surprised to find such a large and healthy specimen in Milwaukee, seemingly unscathed by the disease that killed most of the Midwest’s American elms several decades prior.

Watching the film one gets a glimpse of how individuals and families—sometimes across several generations—interact with and derive value from their community’s trees. The film also spotlights a lesser known competitive program most often administered by state forestry agencies: champion tree registries. The primary goal of these programs is to identify the largest living trees within a state, but they also serve as a means to educate citizens about trees, their many benefits, and the most important aspects of their care.

State foresters’ first Tree Story, “Forgotten Storm,” profiled timber farmers and their courage to recover after catastrophe. In October 2019, Hurricane Michael destroyed 72 million tons of timber—the equivalent of 2.5 million log trucks worth of wood—across 11 Florida Panhandle counties. Communities throughout the storm’s path were left to clean up, grade, and replant thousands of acres before wildfires struck; but with the resilience modeled by their forests, they are rebuilding what they lost.

The second installment in the series, “Kumu Niu,” follows the community group Niu Now as they prepare to plant a new grove of coconut trees, or “niu,” on the University of Hawai’i’s West O’ahu campus. The grove’s planting has been years in the making, and is both a practical and symbolic step toward restoring the knowledge of the tropical world’s “tree of life” and sharing the Indigenous wisdom of “aloha ‘āina:” loving land and serving people.

“Tree Hunter” and other Tree Stories are available to view here on NASF’s YouTube channel and here on NASF’s website. Embedded above is the full feature film “Tree Hunter.” Below are two trailers for the film: “The Balance of Nature” and “Test Your Tree ID Skills.” To learn more about state champion tree programs, head to, scroll to the interactive map of the U.S., and click a state to visit its forestry agency’s website.

Media Contact: Whitney Forman-Cook at

Accessibility Toolbar

WE'RE HIRING! NASF is hiring an in-house Grants & Contracts Manager.