TERRE HAUTE —
It seemed that a free forest of young trees waited to be planted Friday as volunteers carefully separated seedlings and wrapped their tender roots in wet paper towels and sacks.
With a planting instruction sheet stapled to each, about 1,100 baldcypress seedlings are destined for students at Dixie Bee and Ouabache elementaries as part of the Arbor Day education sponsored by TREES Inc.
The work occurred at the Grounds Maintenance building on the Indiana State University campus, with landscape and grounds manager Stephanie Krull also directing the volunteers on preparing American plums and hawthorn seedlings for distribution on Arbor Day to Terre Haute residents.
The volunteers also packaged a variety of nut trees — shagbark hickory, hazelnut, walnut, pecan — and dogwoods, to be distributed Wednesday at ISU for Earth Day.
“People can take them home and plant them in their yards and watch them grow,” Krull said of the effort. “And sometimes it’s a memory thing, where parents can plant them with their children, and they watch them grow together.”
Planting trees helps to improve air quality and helps with the tree canopy and stormwater runoff, Krull added.
Among the volunteers, who were participating in ISU’s Donaghy Day community service event on Friday morning, were students Mitch Weust, Kaleigh All and Philip Gomoliski.
“It gives me service hours to help out the community,” said Gomoliski, a fraternity member who was stapling the info sheets to the trees.
ISU writing instructor Ron Martin also volunteered a couple of hours. “I just also wanted to help,” Martin said. “I have students all over campus who are helping with Donaghy Day.
ISU’s Donaghy Day was named after Fred Donaghy, a 1912 graduate of the Normal School and a professor of life sciences. Donaghy Day was initiated in 1976 as a day set aside for the community to celebrate the season and to work to help beautify the campus and surrounding community. After more than a decade of inactivity, it was resurrected a few years ago by President Daniel Bradley as a day of community service.
Judy Hogan of TREES Inc. also had a crew of volunteers wrapping the seedlings in preparation for the tree giveaway to elementary students.
All students at Ouabache Elementary will be given a baldcypress tree on April 24 and all students at Dixie Bee Elementary will receive their trees on April 26.
Hogan said the decision to distribute the baldcypress trees came after a TREES Inc. committee member mentioned that when his son was in third grade at Riley Elementary, they planted a baldcypress together, and that tree has become the most beautiful in his yard.
Hogan commended Subway restaurants, which donated about 1,800 plastic bags to keep the tree roots moist as they await planting.
Krull said that she hopes at least 10 percent of the trees given away will be planted. That may seem like a lot of waste, she said, but it is about the same ratio as in nature, where trees put out a lot of seeds, only a few take root, and even less grew to maturity.
Meanwhile, ISU’s Earth Day Celebration is set for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday on the grassy quad between Condit House and Stalker Hall.
The on-campus celebration begins with opening ceremonies at 10:50 a.m. and includes more than 50 vendors and sponsors, free local and organic food, an original research poster contest, an art contest, live entertainment, a rock climbing wall, corn hole contest and perennial exchange.
The day’s events will kick off with a bike ride led by Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett from ISU’s Memorial Stadium to the campus.
Check in starts at 9:30, with a brief town hall meeting at 9:45 a.m. The riders will then begin the 3.5-mile point-to-point route ending at the fountain on the campus of Indiana State University. The ride is intended to showcase Terre Haute's trail system, encourage alternative transportation and promote healthy lifestyles.
“Taking charge of your personal health should be one of the most important issues for you and your family. I am excited to host our city’s first bicycle ride, encouraging people to take advantage of our wonderful trail and greenway system” Bennett said in a news release. “Terre Haute is flourishing with recreational opportunities ranging from canoeing in the Wabash River to playing tennis at Rea Park or playing pickle ball in Brittlebank Park; this ride celebrates just one of the many ways to stay active.”
The ride is open to the Terre Haute community and the first 50 registered participants will receive a drawstring bag with T-shirt and water bottle.
“This is the third year ISU has celebrated Earth Day, and this year is easily the biggest event,” said Caroline Savage, Institute for Community Sustainability assistant director. “It’s such an exciting experiential learning opportunity for students, ISU employees and the community.”
To register for the bike ride, go to terrehaute.in.gov/mayors-office/mayors-bicycle-ride.html.
Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.