Art Bushue keeps Clinton beautiful
Community: Village of Clinton
Family: Wife, Barbara; daughters, Lisa and Cheri; son, Jason, and four grandchildren.
What he wants to do this summer: Get one of his two restored sailboats on Devil's Lake
On historic preservation: "You've got to preserve at least the high points of the past, or how are the kids going to know where they come from?"
Education: Graduated from Southern Illinois University and earned his MBA from Eastern Illinois University.
Bet you didn't know: In the early '80s, Bushue started the first Volksmarching club in Muncie, Ind. Volksmarching is a form on noncompetitive hiking that started in Europe. At about the same time, he started a group for singles, in which he found his wife. And, of course, more recently he started an adopt-a-plot program and a forestry board in the village of Clinton.
Where does one find the motivation to volunteer? "The soul."
CLINTON Call him a veteran, an accountant or a sailor. Call him a founder or a historian.
He even doesn't mind "tree hugger."
Clinton Village Board member Art Bushue has worked around the world and across the United States. Today, the retired accountant is known as the founder of and cheerleader for Clinton's forestry board.
Bushue knew little about trees in 1999 when he got village approval to start the forestry board, but it seemed like a natural extension of the adopt-a-plot program he started in 1998. Still ongoing, the program allows volunteer groups to maintain flower plots in village-owned spaces such as terraces.
It took three years of pushing before Bushue got the village board to approve a forestry ordinance. But for the last seven years, the village has qualified for the Tree City U.S.A. program.
When he started the forestry board, Bushue had a Boy Scout's knowledge of trees, he said. Mostly, he knew what leaves looked like.
The more he learns, the more he's grown to care about forestry, Bushue said.
"I can see why they call us tree huggers," Bushue said. "The more you learn about trees, the more and more questions keep coming."
Mary Jensen thinks the forestry board will be Bushue's legacy in Clinton.
"He is the man who is going to be the Johnny Appleseed of Clinton," said Jensen, who is village board president.
Bushue doesn't direct the village's tree-preservation efforts from afar, Jensen said. He prunes trees, conducts inventories and participates in educational programs, she said.
"He's willing to get his hands dirty," Jensen said. "He's not one to just stand back and supervise."
Of course, Bushue brings more than just a passion for trees to the village, Jensen said. He has served on the village board since 1994 and is a member of the safety and welfare committee, the finance committee, the historical society and the Friends of the Clinton Public Library.
"He's a well-rounded person," Jensen said. "He doesn't just talk about trees."
Bushue's careers have taken him around the world. He served as an intelligence officer in the Vietnam War in 1969 where he was part of a team that interviewed Vietnamese villagers.
He earned his master's degree in business accounting from Eastern Illinois University and has worked for companies across the United States.
Bushue and his wife, Barbara, fell in love with Clinton and moved there in 1991. They gardened at home, and Bushue thought gardens would brighten empty city-owned properties such as boulevards and terraces. He started the adopt-a-plot program in 1998, and from there grew the forestry board and Bushue's passion for trees.
"If you really love a place, you can't sit back and watch," Bushue said. "You've got to pitch in and do something to keep it beautiful."