Sweetheart Circle gained over a handful of saplings thanks to the planting efforts of the Center for Sustainability and many volunteers on Feb 21. Dozens of students and staff from the school’s conservation and sustainability department participated in the event.
The event opened with a speech given by Dr. Lissa Leege, Ph.D, about the history of the program along with input from Georgia Forestry Commission representative, Alex Ballard, who talked about the first Arbor Day and the importance of trees in general and horticulturist, Alicia Johnson, who organized a large team of helpers herself.
Leege said that the program has planted trees around campus for years.
“We have planted trees in Herty forest across the street, in the little park area by Shooting Sports, and, this year, we get to do the iconic Sweetheart Circle,” said Leege. “I have been directing the Center for Sustainability since its inception 11 years ago and eight years ago we partnered with the Division of Facilities Services for Arbor Day.”
Mr. Ballard used his speaking time to encourage everyone to care more about trees.
“If you don’t like trees, you should like trees,” said Ballard. “The first Arbor Day was in 1872 in Nebraska. Here we are in 2020, quite sometime later, still planting trees. Why? Trees help clean the air, they clean the water, they provide shade…trees are awesome!”
Representatives from the Sustainability Center were the first to plant a tree. Here, the team was tasked with untangling the tree’s root ball, a clump of roots resulting from a potted plant’s inability to stretch beyond its container. After the first tree was planted, the staff, speakers and volunteers broke off into small groups and began planting trees from the center and edges of the Circle to the paths leading to Herty Pines Nature Preserve and Clements Stadium.
GS students, Dennis Gordon, geology major, and Dylan Stanley, a worker for the Center for Sustainability, explained that the event was important to them professionally.
“I’m a geologist so like, of course I’m drawn to things that are nature type things and also research with plants,” said Gordon. “Things like this I’ll always want to go to.”
Stanley said that knowing how to tend to trees is a useful skill for all people for multiple reasons.
“It’s a good skill to know, like how to plant a tree or garden because that’s a skill that you can take anywhere,” said Stanley. “Just kind of knowing and being in contact with your natural environment.”