News From Terre Haute, Indiana

March 24, 2013

Volunteers spend Saturday planting 117 trees

Sue Loughlin
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — About 250 people, most of them college students, gathered at Collett Park on Saturday morning to plant 117 trees in the neighborhood.

In many cases, the trees replaced ones that were felled or damaged by a storm two years ago, when straight-line winds changed the landscape of the area on Terre Haute’s north side.

The event was the annual TREES spring planting, and there was no shortage of labor. Nearly 200 student volunteers, primarily Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology students as well as several from Indiana State University, participated. Another 57 adults also donated their time.

“We’ve had wonderful help from our volunteers,” said Brian Conley, the TREES, Inc. vice president in charge of tree projects.

The city purchased the trees, and TREES, Inc. received a $10,000 grant from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources to help with other costs.

Many of the trees were planted in city tree rows in front of homes, with those residents agreeing to take care of the trees. Others were planted in Collett Park, and some along the trail leading to the Maple Avenue Nature Park.

In a separate project, several dogwoods were planted on the private property of homeowners.

“We put a call out to citizens in the area,” said Sheryle Dell, the city’s urban forester, who also inspected the sites to make sure they were appropriate for a tree.

After quick training sessions Saturday morning, volunteers dispersed in teams throughout the greater Collett Park neighborhood.

A group of Rose-Hulman students went to work in front of a home on North Ninth Street. Josh McCammon and John Stephani laboriously dug a hole large enough for the root ball, which was covered with burlap.

The guys were from Delta Sigma Phi fraternity. “I always do yard work at home with my dad,” said Stephani, a sophomore from Michigan. “I like waking up and going out and making things look nice.”

Later, Jamie Dintelmann and Ashley Kohls used hayhooks to help position the tree. The Rose-Hulman students volunteered to plant trees because “we thought it would be a good opportunity to come and help the community,” Dintelmann said. Both are members of Tri Delta sorority.

The Rose-Hulman students were supervised by TREES, Inc. board members Pat Martin and Lynn Van Etten.

Further south on Ninth Street, TREES board member Stacey Bocard supervised another group of student volunteers. Bocard has been involved with TREES for at least 10 years.

“I think what TREES does for the community is wonderful,” she said. The tree planting “helps beautify Terre Haute.” She’s also impressed with the volunteer turnout.

She brought along her 8-year-old daughter, Iliana, a student at Dixie Bee Elementary, who participated in her first TREES spring planting.

Elsewhere in the neighborhood, a group of Indiana State University students from Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity planted dogwoods at the home of Lauri Chandler.

“They’re trying to make the neighborhood look nicer,” said Chandler. Her family joined the Collett Park neighborhood association, which is how the Chandlers learned about the TREES spring planting and the opportunity to receive dogwood trees.

Her husband is the assistant superintendent at a golf course and knows how to maintain the trees, she said. “He’ll take care of them.”

Outside, ISU student Eric Perez was among several working to plant three dogwoods. The fraternity does a lot of community service, he said. He’s glad to help out.

The reward “is seeing smiles on everyone’s faces.They’re coming out and want to take pictures. It’s a nice feeling,” Perez said.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at (812) 231-4235 or