Grounds crew to lead Arbor Day tree planting

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The campus of Sam Houston State University is home to a variety of trees of all ages. From dedicated landmarks like the Presidents Tree, to the decorative plants throughout campus, SHSU’s landscape defines the academic environment students visit daily.

In honor of Texas Arbor Day, the SHSU Grounds Crew and the Center for Leadership and Services will work with students to plant trees around campus today.

SHSU arborist Evan Anderson, along with grounds services supervisor Jerry Watson and custodial and grounds services manager Scott Dolezal, have planned to educate students on the significance of trees and tree planting.

“What we’re going to do is have a little presentation down at the waterwall behind CHSS,” Anderson said. “We’re going to talk about the benefits of trees, and we’re going to demonstrate how to plant a tree. Then students are going to go off in groups and try to plant one, two, three trees, however many they get in the ground.”

Anderson said a variety of trees will be available for students to plant.

“If we get enough students, we’re planning on planting 40 trees,” Anderson said. “We have a mix. We have pecan trees, elm trees, sycamore trees, pine trees, oak trees [and] sassafras trees.”

Anderson said members of the Texas Forest Service, including former SHSU arborist Joshua Mizrany, will attend the event to aid students in the tree planting process.

“We have people from the Texas Forest Service coming,” Anderson said. “They do a lot of community outreach and extension work as well. We have three or four of their guys coming from the local offices to go out with the groups of students and give them some knowledge.”

SHSU celebrates Arbor Day twice a year. Today’s events are in celebration of Texas Arbor Day, according to Anderson.

“National Arbor Day is in April,” Anderson said. “The Arbor Day Foundation is in Omaha, Neb. The Texas climate doesn’t really line up with them, so we have Texas Arbor Day in November. Late fall or early winter is the best time in Texas to plant trees. Cities, campuses [and] schools all over the state are going to be planting trees over these next couple of weeks.”

SHSU hosts a second Arbor Day celebration in the spring semester as well.

“There’s also a Sam Houston Arbor Day,” Anderson said. “We have an event each semester. We also plant trees at the end of winter, which is sort of the last part of the best time to plant trees.”

Anderson said SHSU’s Arbor Day events not only add trees to the campus landscape, but they teach students the logistics of tree planting and what they add to the community.

“It’s important for people to know that trees are infrastructure,” Anderson said. “A tree – if it’s at your house, at your school’s campus, in front of your shopping center – it’s something that can be planted, but it has to be planted correctly. Just like you have to build the foundation of a house correctly, you have to plant the tree correctly so it has a foundation to grow on. If you don’t put it in the ground correctly, it’s never going to grow into what you want it to be. It’s a good chance for students to really see how it’s done. There are common mistakes out there that people make, and hopefully we can enlighten some people on how to plant a tree.”

Along with the importance of how to plant a tree, Anderson stressed the impact trees can have in students’ lives.

“I hope that we can plant a small seed of knowledge in the students [about] the importance of trees,” Anderson said. “Trees are easy to plant, they’re easy to get a hold of, but they have to be done right. They have to be cared for like anything else. I hope everybody that plants a tree here will go back to their parent’s house and tell them they planted a tree. If they see an empty front yard, they’ll push their mom and dad or aunt and uncle or friend to plant another tree. The more trees we have, the better.”

SHSU’s Arbor Day events will be held in two sessions.

Session one begins at 10 a.m. and lasts till noon. Session two will run from 2 to 4 p.m. Both sessions will meet at the Waterwall behind the College of Humanities and Social Sciences building.

Free T-shirts will be given out to students, so long as they dig and attempt to plant a tree, according to Anderson.

While registration for the events closed Nov. 4, Anderson said anyone interested in the events may still attend.

Anderson said the trees planted will leave something for students to see when they return to campus in the future.

“Maybe, in 20 years, when you swing back through, you’ll see the tennis court and say ‘hey, I planted those trees.’”