Monica Lear, Ph.D. is the Deputy Associate Director and State Forester working in DDOT's Urban Forestry Administration (UFA). Dr. Lear is the first plant pathologist to hold the position of Deputy Associate Director in UFA. She is also the only black female State Forester in the nation.
In the past she has served as the Assistant Director of Horticulture and Quarantine Programs at the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and as an urban horticulture extension agent for the Virginia Cooperative Extension in Arlington, Virginia and the LSU AgCenter in New Orleans, Louisiana. She has earned Ph.D. and MS degrees in Plant Health and a BS degree in Horticulture from Louisiana State University.
She is the first District of Columbia State Forester to represent state forestry agencies on the National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council to the Secretary of Agriculture (NUCFAC) as a representative of the National Association of State Foresters. The Council serves in an advisory capacity to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack regarding the Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry National Program.
When did you start with DDOT?
What positions/roles have you held at DDOT?
Deputy Associate Director, Deputy State Forester and State Forester
What key accomplishments have you achieved at DDOT?
I was able to convince the Northeastern Area Morgantown Office staff that the District of Columbia needed to participate in the National Cooperative Forest Health Program so that our unique urban forest disease, insect and invasive species issues could be identified and addressed. In 2009, UFA officially began our Cooperative Urban Forest Program. It is the first time the District of Columbia has been included and brings to three the number of USDA Forest Service programs we participate in and receive core funding for.
I coordinated urban and community forestry coordinators in the District of Columbia and four northeastern states (Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont) in developing a grant proposal, titled” Urban Tree Canopy Tool Development and Assessment, Goal Setting and Implementation,” in the 2008 Northeastern Area State and Private Forestry Redesign Competitive Grant process. The grant was awarded in 2008; the total grant award was $823,245. The goals of the grant were to:
- To use remote sensing data to provide a new assessment of overall urban canopy in the District.
- To develop and document standardized spatial decision assessment tools working with USDA Forest Service Research and the University of Vermont Spatial Analysis Lab.
- To realistically assess planting opportunities available in the District among all communities and all land use ownerships.
- To generally assess the health status of our urban forest, and to develop a realistic tree canopy goal and implementation of that goal.
Completion of this grant in the District will be in spring 2011 and will culminate with tree planting projects on District government public properties.
Greatest influences/role models in your career?
Mostly my family members, especially my grandfather Alton Lear. He overcame enormous obstacles to get a college education and become a successful professional.
What do you appreciate the most about DDOT?
I really appreciate the attitude and helpfulness of my fellow DDOT employees. People will go the extra mile to help whenever you need it and that cohesiveness is not something that you see in a lot of organizations.