Eric Rutkow makes the connection between U.S. presidents and trees

Most people have heard the tale of George Washington and the cherry tree, but less well known are the stories of how the natural landscape impacted three other U.S. presidents, and how they in turn, shaped the nation’s forests. 

Yale graduate student Eric Rutkow will talk about the relationship between trees and George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Rutkow, author of “American Canopy: Trees, Forests, and the Making of a Nation” (Scribner 2012), will be at the New Haven Museum on Lincoln’s birthday to lead a broad-ranging discussion that includes the birth of federal environmental protection, the creation of the national parks and forests, the famous “Tree Army” of the 1930s, and ceremonial trees, such as the oak tree that was planted on the New Haven Green to celebrate the centennial of Lincoln’s birth — and lost during Hurricane Sandy.

Currently studying American history, Rutkow is a graduate of Yale College and Harvard Law School. “American Canopy” is his first book. His talk, titled “The Executive’s Branch: Trees and the Shaping of Four Great American Presidents,” will take place on Thursday, Feb. 26, at 6:30 p.m. at the New Haven Museum, 114 Whitney Ave. It is free and open to the public.