UT celebrates Texas Arbor Day, educates community about trees

Julianne Hodges and Brittany Wagner

UT Landscape Services celebrated Texas Arbor Day on Friday by planting trees next to the turtle pond, educating the UT community about tree care and giving away seedlings grown from seeds gathered from campus.

UT is part of the Tree Campus USA program through the Arbor Day Foundation. This year will be UT’s ninth year as an official tree campus, said Jim Carse, assistant manager of urban forestry.

Although National Arbor Day is in April, Texas celebrates Arbor Day in November. Planting trees in the fall instead of the spring gives the tree’s roots a chance to set into the surrounding soil before the weather gets too hot, Carse said.

Jennifer Hrobar, supervisor of urban forestry on campus, said they were giving away 12 anacacho orchid tree saplings and 15 southern magnolia saplings. 

“We’ll be here planting these four trees to celebrate Arbor Day as a memorial planting, and to get people together, teach them how to plant trees, and give them information on trees,” Hrobar said. “That’s just part of everything we do as landscape services and forestry on campus.”

UT Facilities Services planted one Montezuma cypress and three redbud trees at the Arbor Day celebration. The redbuds will fill in a bare section near the turtle pond, along with flowering plants and succulents, Carse said.

The committee in charge of the tower shooting memorial at the turtle pond wanted the Montezuma cypress to go with the new marker that was placed in August for the 50th anniversary of the shooting, Carse said.

“It’s a joint [project], it’s a little bit for the tower shooting and for the people who are recognized and honored for that,” Carse said. “It’s also for us to improve the area and to celebrate our Arbor Day.”

According to Carse, trees on campus can improve air and water quality, and the shade from bigger trees can keep buildings cooler in the summer.

“[The trees] contribute 100, 200, 300 dollars a year in ecosystem benefits,” he said. “We know we can’t save all of the trees, either from construction or disease or old age, but we try our best.”

UT internal auditor Kerri Anne Jordan, who is originally from the northwest, said she learned about how to properly plant and care for trees in Texas at the event.

“It’s a beautiful campus. It takes staff,” Jordan said. “They take a lot of pride in what they do.”