On a rainy and unusually warm November day, over 40 Craven Community College (CCC) students, staff and faculty planted 24 red oak trees on its New Bern campus. Participating students included students from the cosmetology, esthetics and biology programs, student ambassadors, and members of Kappa Beta Delta business honor society, Phi Theta Kappa international honor society, Science Club, and Student Government Association.
“Our facilities team had already planned to plant the trees, but our sustainability committee thought it would be a great educational opportunity,” said Bambi Edwards, dean of technology and facilities, and the chair of CCC’s Sustainability and Beautification committee.
According to the committee’s plan, “This committee’s charge is to inspire College students, faculty, and staff to make meaningful personal commitments that collectively will have an impact on reducing the ecological footprint of the College community. This mission is accomplished by formulating a sustainability plan for the institution, and initiating practices, and hosting events for the College community that bring awareness to the effort to increase campus sustainability.”
Edwards said planting the trees fits well with this year’s Earth Day theme, “Trees for the Earth.” The Earth Day Network’s goal is to plant 7.8 billion trees over the next five years.
Before putting shovels to work, participants learned how to properly plant this species of tree. Jimmy Singleton, CCC facilities maintenance technician and experienced landscaper, informed participants of the proper preparation, planting, and care of a fledgling tree to ensure successful growth to maturity.
Guest speaker Tom Glasgow, Craven County director at NC Cooperative Extension, shared the overall benefits of trees with the participants. They learned that along with aesthetic beauty, trees provide shade to reduce energy consumption, improve air quality, mitigate climate change by absorbing CO2, improve real estate values, increase business attractiveness, help manage storm water to reduce flooding, and enhance health and wellness.
For some students, it was their first time planting a tree. Esthetics student Paloma Wright said, “I now feel more confident in planting trees and so I will not kill them.” When asked what she felt about the tree she helped plant, “I hope it grows bigger than all of the trees on campus.”
Biology instructor and founding sustainable committee member Cindy Seymour, said she was happy to see people from many areas of the college participating in the event. Seymour and Edwards, along with the committee, are planning additional educational activities for the spring semester.
In addition to a fun and educational event, Edwards wanted the college community to know how hard the facilities team works to keep the campuses beautiful and safe through its ongoing tree maintenance.
In an email to staff, Dr. Ray Staats, CCC president, said the event was “A great opportunity for our maintenance team to directly participate in our teaching mission and for our students to make an immediate visible impact upon their learning environment!”
Deborah Kania is the director of marketing, communications and development liaison at Craven Community College.
Article originally appeared in the New Bern Sun Journal.