Students work in

Emily Dalnodar

Joking about getting suckered into hard labor, several University students spent Monday afternoon planting trees in the hot sun.
Members of the Student Society of Arboriculture bedded four more trees outside of Green Hall on the St. Paul campus as part of their Arbor Month project.
The initiative began earlier this year when the group received a grant from Foster-Wheeler to purchase 24 trees. A federally funded trust provided the trees and students planted the first and only tree April 24, Arbor Day.
Monday’s effort put three white spruce conifers and one leafy ironwood in the ground.
Several students and passing professors helped dig holes, transport sod and mulch and plant the trees.
“I don’t know why we volunteered for work,” said Ben Johnson, a College of Natural Resources senior and former president of the group. He and other students joked about their efforts, but conceded that the rewards of a greener campus outweighed their laborious efforts.
“It’s really nice to see the student involvement,” said Carl Vogt, an extension forestry professor who passed by to admire the work. “It’s a super project that’s long overdue, and the students have shown great initiative.”
The group plans to reconnect the wooded area from where Buford Circle and Buford Avenue meet up to Green Hall, a block away. The group, headed by forestry professor Gary Johnson, will use native foliage to re-establish a natural woods setting.
The three white spruce will take the place of a large existing spruce nearby. The tree weakened after a 1988 summer drought and never fully recovered, Johnson said. Its health has since worsened and Facilities Management officials plan to cut it down soon.
Students and the University Grounds Crew will care for the trees during a predicted dry summer by watering and pruning them.
Trees arrived on campus Friday and need constant watering until they are in the ground, so the sooner they are planted the better, Johnson said.
But the project is far from complete after Monday. Students volunteered to finish the planting Wednesday and Thursday. The entire process, from digging to surrounding the new tree with mulch and water, takes about an hour of work for two people per tree.
Monday’s volunteer turnout was a hair shy of a full crew of 10 students, Johnson said. He said he hopes more students will turn out later in the week to complete the objectives.
“I will possibly help out every day,” said Russell Kennedy, a forest resources major.
If the project is a success, the group will apply for another grant next year to continue its work.