Planting with purpose

Across the state, thousands of trees will find a new place in the earth today as folks participate in Arbor Day celebrations in an effort to revitalize the environment.

While the official Arbor Day date is celebrated nationally on the last day of April, each state carries its own perfect seasonal planting date and students at Sam Houston State University took full advantage of theirs on Thursday.

More than 80 students attend the event, with members of the Texas A&M Forest Service and SHSU Groundskeeping staff on hand to aid in the planting of more than 17 new saplings on campus.

SHSU Arborist Evan Anderson led a quick demonstration on proper planting technique before groups of five broke off to find the trees their new home.

“Every year, we’re having an increased number of students sign up which is great,” said Anderson who has been working as the university’s resident tree expert for more than a year.

“I feel that this is something that they can take with them, Anderson added. “They plant a tree here and they might plant one in their own yard down the road. I think the students like being part of a positive change and this could be the beginning of a lot of community involvement for them for the rest of their lives.”

With a flurry of shovels and mulch, students made quick work of the planting and participated in a “Tree ID” contest to see who could identify the most varieties of trees on the sprawling campus while winning a gift card to Buffalo Wild Wings.

Texas A&M Forest Service Resource Specialist Kenny Harrelson noted the benefits of consistent planting as he helped a group of students place a new pine tree in the freshly dug soil.

“Any time you’re able to plant a tree you’re helping the environment,” Harrelson said. “They bring shade, clean the air and it’s important to keep planting them continuously.”

Organized in part by the SHSU Center for Leadership and Service department, the event also helped students earn vital hours of community service for their various campus organizations civic engagement courses.

“It was phenomenal how many people we had sign up for this,” graduate student and assistant for CLS Sarah Hegler said after organizing the event. “Seeing students become so passionate about the earth and about the goodness of trees is always a good thing.

“If you look of the state of the environment that we’re building today, there’s a lot of destruction that’s happening, Hagler added. “We need to be able to think about how we can improve that and how we can be thoughtful of what we’re doing to the earth and how we can help persevere it for generations to come.”

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