Learn about Katherine Olivia Sessions who brought trees to San Diego and created what eventually became Balboa Park.
Katherine “Kate” Olivia Sessions was a teacher and activist who saw a problem and worked to fix it. “The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever” written by H. Joseph Hopkins with illustrations by Jill McElmurry, pays tribute to one of America’s earliest environmental activists.
Even as a child, Kate was a pioneer. Growing up in Northern California in the 1860s, she fell in love with nature. At the time, girls were discouraged from studying science. But that didn’t stifle Kate’s passion for nature. After becoming the first woman to graduate from the University of California with a science degree, she was called to a teaching job in San Diego.
Upon her arrival there, Kate was devastated. She had never imagined living in a place without trees and plants. She became a “tree hunter,” writing to gardeners around the world to ask for seeds that could grow in a desert.
Kate’s passion for nature inspired the entire community. With help, her trees were soon growing everywhere, even in the city park. Today, San Diego is known for its stunning gardens and parks. Most of the older trees in the city can be directly linked to her work.
Mr. Hopkins’ picture book biography is a long overdue tribute to a virtually unknown environmental activist. In addition to the uplifting story, readers will appreciate the artwork that establishes a sense of place and progress. Ms. McElmurray’s nature-inspired illustrations not only compliment the text, they also complete the story. Page after page of paintings celebrate science, nature and determination.