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U.S. Equestrian Team Joins Global Tree Planting Project Planting at USET Olympic Training Center Joins Others in Olympic Torch Route Cities And Other Sites to Boost Environmental Effort

Gladstone, NJ—June 26, 2003—Olympic show jumping riders Margie Goldstein Engle, Nona Garson, Lisa Jacquin and Anne Kursinski joined other Olympic athletes from around the world who are championing the environment as part of the Global Olive Wreath project, created by the Athens Environmental Foundation (AEF). The four equestrians joined the project by presenting a tree to the United States Equestrian Team (USET) for planting at the USET Olympic Training Center at Gladstone, NJ.

Beginning on Earth Day 2003 (April 19), AEF launched an 18-month tree-planting project that will eventually encircle the globe along the 2004 Olympic torch route forming a figurative “Global Olive Wreath.” People in every region and country of the world are being encouraged to support the effort by participating in local ceremonies as champions of this project. Every city that has ever hosted an Olympic Summer Games, plus the cities of Beijing, Cairo, Cape Town, Rio De Janeiro, Las Vegas, Lexington (Kentucky), New York, Lausanne, and Nicosia have held or are planning tree-planting ceremonies, reflecting a worldwide commitment to environmental responsibility, peace, and prosperity. AEF also plans to extend “branches” of the Global Olive Wreath to some of the most troubled cities in the world, including Jerusalem, Belfast, Ramallah, and Baghdad.

Gladstone, New Jersey, home of the USET Olympic Training Center, joined the project by accepting a tree presented on behalf of Olympic athletes by Engle, Garson, Jacquin and Kursinski who were in Gladstone to compete for the Rolex/USET Show Jumping Championship at the Bayer/USET Festival of Champions presented by State Line Tack. The tree they donated was provided by Hall’s Garden Center of Berkeley Heights, NJ and Tamke Tree Experts of Liberty Corner, NJ on behalf of the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) who is partnering with AEF on the Global Olive Wreath project.

“A healthy environment is important to all of us and I am proud that Olympic athletes are doing our part to help,” Engle said. “The planting of this tree at the USET Olympic Training Center will be a visible symbol of our commitment t a healthier environment.”

“Anyone anywhere in the world interested in adding a branch can do so,” said Jim Skiera, associate executive director of the International Society of Arboriculture. Trees and planting projects can be registered online at or

The Global Olive Wreath project includes planting olive trees wherever possible, especially in the Mediterranean basin. Other location-appropriate trees are being used in cities around the world. Members of the ISA are providing their expertise in tree care to assist with proper tree selection for various planting ceremonies worldwide. The USET welcomed the chance to further the effort.

“The USET has been directly involved with the Olympic movement for more than 50 years,” said USET President Armand Leone, Jr. “Participating in this important effort in support of a healthy environment is something we are thrilled to do.”

“The world has long awaited an effort like the Global Olive Wreath project, emphasizing the importance of sport and the environment,” said marine environmentalist Jean-Michel Cousteau. “This global environmental tree-planting will forever impact the condition of our oceans, fresh water, air, soil, and wildlife.”

AEF was established to organize, support, and promote global environmental awareness, education, responsibility and sustainability associated with the 2004 Olympiad in Athens, Greece and future Olympic games.

On April 19, an AEF Olympian Earth Day ceremony in Athens, Greece formally kicked off the project with the planting of the first olive trees in the “wreath.” World Olympians, including Nikos Kaklamanakis and Michael Voudouris of Greece, along with Jean-Michel Cousteau, participated in the celebration that was webcast globally. Equestrian sport jumped in quickly with ceremonies at the Budweiser Show Jumping World Cup Final in Las Vegas and at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event in Lexington, Kentucky. The project will continue at more than 1,400 schools, university campuses, and other locations in more than 110 countries, including 75 locations throughout the U.S., until the 2004 Athens Olympic Games begin.

“Trees are the lungs of the planet and the olive wreath has always been revered as a symbol of peace, sustenance, and life, and the highest honor bestowed to an Olympic Champion,” said Tony Diamantidis, executive director of the Athens Environmental Foundation (AEF). “The Global Olive Wreath project allows the world to unite, on this momentous occasion of the homecoming of the Olympic games, under the Ancient Greek Olympic ideals of sport, culture, environment, and peace.”

The United States Equestrian Team is a non-profit organization that selects, trains, equips and finances equestrians of the highest possible standard to represent our country in major international competition, including the Olympic Games and the World Championships. To accomplish this, the USET seeks out and nurtures the development of talented athletes - riders, drivers and horses - and provides the support and guidance they need to help them attain their fullest potential. For more information on the USET, please call (908) 234-1251, or visit USET ONLINE at


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