Hall Of Fame Inductees
The individuals nominated should have made a significant impact or positive influence that assures the future of our industry in the lives of generations to come.
Once nominated, an individual’s biography and photo are updated on the site, and he or she is placed in the polls for voting. At the end of the year the committee takes into consideration the votes and decides which candidates are inducted.
- Person with integrity and passion
- Minimum 20 years in industry
- Someone who has developed or invented new technology
- Has made contributions that resulted in change
- Contributed to mankind’s needs in his field
- Provided education and encouragement with self-sacrifice
- Changed the industry
Sims Health Tree Specialists
Susan Sims was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1950 to Bert and Audrey Kenyon. In 1952, The Kenyon family, including Susan’s older brother Bert Jr., moved to Southern California.
Susan’s love for horses would earn her her first horse at age 14. At 16, she earned the title of Queen of Modjeska Mavericks and became the first Gymkhana Horsemastership Champion Girl. She then began her business, Susan’s Saddlery, but came to the realization that making a living with horses wasn’t viable. In 1969, Susan enrolled at Chaffey College. She studied business and interior design while working part time at Keller’s furniture and, later on, Sears.
Susan met Gary Sims at a horse show after his return from the War in Vietnam. In August 1970, Gary and Susan were married.
While Gary continued college, funded by the GI bill, Susan went to work full time at Sears. After being laid off, she then began a long list of jobs including driving school busses, cabinet maker in mobile homes, and driving for Frito Lay. It seemed as soon as the challenge of learning the job was over so was her interest. Her favorite of all of her temporary jobs was working in Sales for Burpee seeds.
In 1972, Gary graduated and went to work. Susan then enrolled in Skadron College of Business. During this time, the gas shortage occurred and Gary’s job in Motor home manufacture and sales disappeared. Harold “Tex” Choate, owner of Choate’s tree service, (whom Gary had worked for before the war) asked Gary if he would be interested in taking his tree spraying clients. Gary worked beneath Choate’s license until getting his own Agricultural Applicators license at the end of 1972. Thus began Sims Tree Health Specialists.
Susan set up the office and made door to door sales. Gary would bring in samples for Susan to help diagnose. They both realized a never ending interest in tree, insect, and disease books, and began taking agriculture, horticulture, biology, and Natural History classes at Riverside Community College, University of California-Riverside Cooperative Extension, and the Jurupa Cultural Center. The classes touched on everything from turf, plant id, gardening, grafting and even foraging. Susan achieved her Agricultural Applicators license in 1983.
After discovering their need for landscape rakes, as well as the market for them, Gary, Susan, and Bert Sr. borrowed her Uncle’s machine shop where they designed and built the “Great Rake”. This began Kenyon Manufacturing; a business ran by Gary, Susan, and her family. The business took Susan and Gary, as well as their two dogs, across the country in their motorhome selling at various trade shows across the states. The line expanded, adding the “Fantastic Fork” and the “Super Fork”. Once distribution was setup, the Sims returned to their tree health business, still making rake calls in California. The tool manufacturing business continued to grow.
Still looking to learn more, Susan applied to the Master Gardeners program. She was accepted as a member in 1983. Her membership allowed her to absorb vast amounts of education and led her to write a Master Gardener column in the Press Enterprise in 1984. Her column lasted for 18 months. Susan enrolled in the Agricultural Biology program at Cal Poly Pomona in 1984 while still working, a method she titled “The 30 Year Program”. She minored in Plant Pathology and Ornamental Horticulture and took multiple soil classes. During her time at Cal Poly, she was inducted into the Gamma Sigma Delta, the honor society of arboriculture. She was also inducted into the Golden Key National Honor Society.
In 1986, while still attending college, Susan acquired her Agricultural Advisors license and became ISA Certified Arborist #286, one of the very few women to hold that title at the time.
While still attending college and working, Susan continued to add to her licenses and certifications. In 1987, Susan and Gary welcomed a son, Kevin. When Kevin was two and a half, she went back to Cal Poly. Kevin attended the day care at the school. During their time together to and from school, Susan would point to trees and plants and quiz Kevin on plant ID and watch as her son yelled the answers in excitement.
In 1995, Susan and Gary took their share of the money from the sale of Kenyon Manufacturing and purchased five and a half acres of property that is now known as Sims Tree Learning Center. The Sims dedicated their time to making Sims TLC a place for education and preservation. TLC is now home to a collection of insects, antiques, and biological samples as well as memorial gardens, a museum, an education center, and an arboretum with one of the largest palm collections in the Inland Empire. Susan’s goal for 2015 is to have TLC become a 501C3 Non-Profit.
With technology and wildlife preservation being on the rise, Susan became concerned for her fellow tree care peers. Mobile phones now allowed wildlife preservationists to record unknowing tree workers that they felt were jeopardizing wildlife living in the trees being worked on. These videos could be sent to California Fish and Game and be used as evidence of violations of protected laws; all the while, tree workers having little to no idea that such laws existed. In 2013, Susan began TLC Wildlife Awareness. A program that teaches green industry professionals about the laws and regulations surrounding protected wildlife that reside in California’s trees. This program focused not only on the protection of wildlife, but also the protection of fellow tree care specialists.
Some of Susan’s many achievements can be viewed in the timeline below:
- 1995-2002: Susan became an Advisor with the American Registry of Certified Professionals, Certified in Agronomy, Crops, and Soils
- 1996: Susan attended the American Society of Consulting Arborists, Arboricultural Consulting Academy in Nebraska.
- 2003: The California Urban Forest Council awarded Sims the Durrell Maughn Founders Award for Education
- 2004-Present: Susan sits on the Inland Urban Forest Council Steering Committee.
- 2004-2008: Susan was on the UCR Botanic Gardens Friends of the Gardens board of directors. She was on the education committee.
- 2004: Susan achieved California Urban Forester #122.
- 2005: Susan became an ISA Board Certified Master Arborist.
- 2007: Susan attended the Historic Landscape Institute: “Preserving Jefferson’s Gardens and Landscapes” held at Monticello and University of Virginia.
- 2007: Susan acquired a C27 Contractors license.
- 2010: Gary and Susan began to build their retirement home and N CA Tree Learning Center on undeveloped Oak Woodland in Oroville, CA. they purchased the land in 1985.
- 2011: Susan became an ISA Qualified Tree Risk assessor.
- 2014: Susan received the Urban Forest Education Award from the CA Urban Forest Council.
- 2015: Susan was inducted into the Green Industry Hall of Fame
Through the years Susan has written articles for magazines, newsletters, and newspapers as well as become a member of a vast array of gardening clubs, foundations, and tree industry organizations. She has also been a speaker and trainer for countless groups including luxury hotels and businesses, city and government entities, various Green Industry organizations, home owners associations, Boy Scout Troops, and 4-H. For 22 years, she has taught (and continues to teach) at Ted Stamen’s Arborist Certification Course.
You can now find Susan semi-retired with her husband Gary; splitting their time between the Northern and Southern California Sims offices. They plan to fully retire and live out their lives in the beautiful nature and calming atmosphere of Oroville, California.