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2000 - Individual Achievement Award - Beautification & Landscaping - Mark Bays

Mark Bays says he was just doing his job. As the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture’s urban forester, he takes care of trees for a living. So when attention turned to the Survivor Tree across from the Murrah Federal Building, Mark was asked to step in to help insure that the tree did survive. He worked with the design team to create protective structures around the tree. By hand, he dug holes for the concrete piers that would hold up the walking platform around the tree. He made certain a fence was built to keep construction equipment from damaging the tree or its roots. At each step in planning and construction of the Memorial, Mark was there to protect the great elm and to see that survivors’ wishes were honored.

Mark has collected seeds and cuttings, growing new seedlings to give to victims’ families and to plant on the Memorial grounds. Every step of the way, he’s acted out of compassion, with respect and sensitivity – always going the extra mile to preserve the tree’s health. He’s done much more than his job. Bays helped a grieving community save a tree that still stands as a symbol of hope for Oklahoma’s future. For helping to preserve that hope...