Colleges pride themselves with a good-looking campus, and TJC is a prime example. On March 5, many organizations, students and faculty worked together to make TJC more vibrant by planting 50 trees around campus.
The planning of the event started when a local arborist contacted Mark Gartman, the associate director of facilities. Once the two were in contact with each other, they reached out to Phil Weber, supervisor of landscaping.
“The city of Tyler, especially when Barbara Bass was mayor, they had an initiative to plant trees. Then we as a housing facility got involved by planting one or two trees every year,” said Aukse Harris, assistant director for residential life and housing.
As the city of Tyler began to grow, they started running out of room to plant trees. As the room for more trees became smaller and smaller, city officials contacted the local colleges for some help.
“Tyler officials reached out to TJC, UT Tyler and Texas College offering to work with colleges and planting trees because it is ultimately is still Tyler, which is such a brilliant idea and partnership. So the arborist got with us and Weber, and I’m sure Mark [Gartman] had some kind of role with it,” said Harris “They selected the 50 spots around campus to plant the trees and then began planning the event.”
With all this planning, the housing department had little time to prepare and advertise the event to students. It took about three weeks for the event to be organized by everyone behind the scenes. Even with the little time they had to get everything assembled, there were still plenty of donations.
“We were really in a time crunch. But the city of Tyler donated half of the trees, we purchased 25 as well. They also found companies who donated mulch and the stakes to put around the trees to assist in the growth,” said Harris.
Campus organizations that assisted with the event were the Green Committee and Residential Life. TJC student athletes and Student Life also helped with the event as volunteer planters.
“UT Tyler representatives were present, so next year when it is hosted there we will definitely be in attendance to show our support. There has been a unique partnership created,” said Harris.
On Sunday morning, Harris was skeptical about the event even happening due to the weather. After weeks and weeks of preparation, rain looked like it might have ruined the day.
“I thought ‘Oh my. What about all the trees and equipment?’ We had this whole thing planned out and now it’s raining. But we decided we will move on and proceed,” said Harris. “Apparently it was perfect for planting trees; it was perfect tree planting weather. At the actual time we planted, it barely misted.”
For the almost 200 volunteers involved, food from Dairy Queen was offered. As well as cookies, water and reusable plastic bags. Bags of seeds were also given out by the Green Committee. Before getting to work on the trees, leaders had to show how to plant the trees.
“The city brought in people who ended up being leaders to show how to plant trees. I never realized how aggressive you have to be to plant the trees. Once we learned how to plant, we split up into smaller groups and finished in no time,” said Harris.
Diana Karol, director of auxiliary services, believes the event was an overall success in every possible way.
“I think it was an amazing afternoon in so many aspects for the campus, of course, because we got 50 brand new trees. The students, faculty and staff who participated; we had lots come and volunteer. It was good to see everyone come and work together,” said Karol. “It was also successful because it was a joint effort with the city of Tyler. I’d like to see more and more events where we come together and work as a team.”
After playing their part in this tree planting event, the student and faculty volunteers will leave behind a legacy that will remain after their years at TJC.