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Students plant trees for Arbor Day

May 2, 2014

Thanks to a group of horticulture students, there are new trees on campus in celebration of Arbor Day.

Arbor Day is a holiday that began in Nebraska in 1872. It was founded by a family that had moved to Nebraska and brought trees from the east coast with them to plant on the prairie, according to David Zlesak, a horticulture professor.

Students Miranda Scherer, Emily Klein and Jameson Coopman are planting a crimson spur oak tree outside of the Chalmer Davee Library on Arbor Day.
Students Miranda Scherer, Emily Klein and Jameson Coopman are planting a crimson spur oak tree outside of the Chalmer Davee Library on Arbor Day, which was April 25. (Desi Danforth/Student Voice)

Three trees were planted on the UW-River Falls campus on April 25, since Arbor Day is usually celebrated in the United States on the last Friday in April. Students from Zlesak’s aboriculture class, which teaches the study and care of trees, and the Horticulture Society were on hand to plant the trees.

“We are planting them appropriately with the things we learned in class,” Zlesak said.

Horticulture Society Treasurer Emily Klein, who is also a student in Zlesak’s aboriculture class, was one of the students using the information learned in class in a practical setting.

“We’ve learned about nursery management and now we’re studying about the care of trees,” Klein said.

The three trees planted are all different varieties. The first tree planted is on the south side of Davee Library and is a hybrid oak called “Crimson Spire Oak.”

“It is part white oak, which is one of our native trees, and it’s a cross with an upright narrow English oak,” Zlesak said. “So it has an upright narrow form but the heartiness of the white oak, and the goal here is to have sort of a narrow, tall tree to complement the building, not cover the windows, but fill in part of the space here.”

The second tree was planted on the east side of the Library and it is another hybrid oak called a “Regal Prince Oak.” The third tree was planted behind the power plant by the Kinnickinnic River and it is a native Wisconsin tree called a larch.

Zlesak said that trees benefit people in many ways.

“Trees can help save energy if you plant them in the right spots around your home, to shade your buildings in the summer and protect them from wind in the winter, so they’re more than just beautiful things in the landscape,” Zlesak said. “They help save us money, help with the environment in many ways.”

Student Angela Arthaud agreed with Zlesak about the positive impact trees have.

“Well I do think it’s really important to spread awareness about the positive attributes that trees can contribute to society and the environment and just a better way of life,” Arthaud said. “This is a great time to promote it.”

Trees may also improve people’s moods. According to research conducted by the Happiness Lab at Carleton University located in Ottawa, Ontario, people who walked along a path in the midst of nature reported feeling more positive and relaxed than people who walked in a tunnel.

This was the first year trees have been planted in celebration of Arbor Day since Zlesak came to UWRF five years ago. He donated the trees using his own money and he said that he and the students had to plan where to plant the trees.

“We worked with Joe McIntosh, the ground supervisor on campus, to understand what the plan is for future development on campus, so we could plant the trees in a place where they can stay,” Zlesak said.

The trees, which are about 8 years old, should grow leaves this year once the weather conditions are ideal for growth.