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Goleta Valley Beautiful Awards Marks Departure of Longtime Executive Director Ken Knight

Supporters and donors celebrate the nonprofit's 40 years of service with a fundraiser at the newly renovated Rancho La Patera & Stow House Gardens

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The newly renovated Rancho La Patera & Stow House Gardens was the scenic venue for Goleta Valley Beautiful’s 40th Annual Awards.

The fundraising event featured live music performed by the Santa Barbara Youth Music Academy bands, Mexican food catered by El Zarape, and an outdoor silent auction with a wide variety of plants and garden goodies up for bid.

The Sunday afternoon gathering of supporters and past and current board members celebrated the nonprofit’s 40 years. The event was especially poignant as it marked the departure of longtime Executive Director Ken Knight. After 20 years and more than 4,400 trees planted and nurtured, Knight will leave in June to focus on his private practice as a registered consulting arborist.

“The economic picture has changed such that Goleta Valley Beautiful is no longer able to support a paid staff. The government grants are not what they used to be,” Knight said. “So I recommended that my position be eliminated.”

Knight served as a member of the Board of Directors for Goleta Valley Beautiful before accepting the then-newly created position of executive director in June 2001. Since that time, GVB has supported hundreds of grant-financed tree planting and care projects. GVB provided free trees and initial tree care to public agencies, which leaves a green legacy for current and future generations to enjoy.

GVB’s educational programs reached thousands of elementary schoolchildren through Science Night demonstration programs, assisted by hundreds of UCSB urban forestry interns.

“I always impressed upon the many young volunteers over the years who planted the trees that we were just stewards of these trees. They are our children’s trees and our children’s children’s trees," Knight said. "I hope one day far in future decades someone will appreciate and enjoy a tree and will say, ‘Thank you for planting this tree.’”

Sponsors who helped support the fundraiser included MarBorg Industries, Rabobank, Camino Real Marketplace, Citrix, Community West Bank, Santa Barbara Airbus, the Rudi Schulte Family Foundation and others.

2014 Award Winners


» 50 Coromar, Deckers Outdoor Corp.


» 598 N. Fairview Ave., The Center for Urban Agriculture at Fairview Gardens

Goleta Valley Heritage

» 304 N. Los Carneros, Goleta Valley Historical Society Arboretum

Heritage Tree

» Coast Redwood at 5853 Mandarin Road in Goleta

Volunteer of the Year

» Adriana Garcia

Golden Shovel

» David Fainer Jr.

Homeowners Association

» The Bluffs HOA, Hollister Avenue

Residential — Sustainable

» 559 Via Rueda, David Litschel and Martha Shilliday


» 5419 Parejo Drive, Stacy Rebtch and Joao Hespanha

Public Building/School

» 300 Sumida Gardens Lane, St. Athanasius Church

Public — Sustainable

» North Los Carneros Roundabout, City of Goleta

Neighborhood Enhancement

» 595 San Ricardo Drive, Goleta Water District — San Ricardo Well

Goleta Valley Beautiful is a nonprofit environmental, educational and community service organization with an emphasis on urban forestry for public areas. It has served the Goleta Valley and Santa Barbara County since 1974. The 13th annual Heritage Tree and History Tour will take place on May 18 and will be led by Knight. He will also engage in a series of Saturday morning tree plantings through May 31, before he departs.

For more information, click here or call GVB at 805.685.7910.

Noozhawk contributing writer Rochelle Rose can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

Goleta Valley Beautiful
Clara VanMeeuwen, left, from sponsor Camino Real Marketplace, Goleta Valley Beautiful board president Phebe Mansur and board member Richard Turner. (Rochelle Rose / Noozhawk photo)

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