Trees for Greener Schools

Karen Townsend and Judy Caldwell
Department of Horticulture, Clemson University

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Student Handing TreeChildren all over the upstate of South Carolina are learning to be tree stewards thanks to a new woody ornamentals program within Clemson's Horticulture Department called "Trees for Greener Schools." The program provides trees and technical support to public schools in need of landscape improvements and having student or volunteer groups willing to care for young trees. During the winter of 1995, 17 area schools planted over 150 bald cypress provided by this program. Other types of trees will be made available to schools in upcoming years.

Starts of trees came from the National Tree Trust in Washington, DC as part of a national effort to furnish trees for public spaces. Last winter, the Department received 700 one-year-old bareroot seedlings of dogwood, red maple, sawtooth oak, shumard oak, willow oak, and bald cypress from the Trust. The trees are held in pots in our nursery until they reach a landscape-ready size as the bald cypress did this past year.

Three people holding plantsThe first year's tree plantings were handled in various ways by different schools. Many chose to commemorate Arbor Day with a single or several tree planting on the First of December. Other schools had ambitious landscaping plans for their campuses. Students at Seneca High School in Seneca, South Carolina planted a whopping 60 bald cypress along the boundary of their large campus. Science teacher Eddie Perry enlisted the help of his biology classes for planting and mulching, instructing each student to bring a shovel from home. Math classes were involved in designing the layout of the planting, while journalism classes wrote press releases about the project.

The Trees for Greener Schools Program will reap both immediate and future rewards. Students currently involved in the program will have first hand knowledge of tree planting and young tree care. They will see practical applications of concepts they heard about in biology and agriculture education classes. Looking into the future 10, 20, even 50 years, students will enjoy shade on their playgrounds and take pride in the attractiveness of their schools, because their predecessors took the plant trees.

The photo on this page appeared in "Inside Clemson" last year with the following caption:

John Sherard from Palmetto Primary School in Williamston and Pam Ballard from Northside Elementary School in Seneca accept trees for their school from Karen Townsend, a Clemson University graduate student involved in the "Trees for Greener Schools" project at the South Carolina Botanical Garden.

Last Updated 2/1/97