Arbor Day Celebration encourages attendees to share tree stories

By Megan Loock
Elm Staff Writer

On Friday, April 29, the Department of Environmental Studies and Center for Environment and Society invited the Chestertown and Washington College community to participate in their annual Arbor Day celebration in Martha Washington Square and the Miller Library patio.

This year’s theme was “If Trees Could Talk,” and attendees were encouraged to share and reflect on their favorite memories of the trees on campus.

The theme focused on the historical importance of George Washington’s legacy and his relationship with trees.

“Washington exemplified the idea that if you’re going to plant a tree or you want to plant a tree, plant it,”  Director of Horticulture of Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens Jeffery Dean Norton said. “That love of trees, land, and nature is a recurring theme throughout Washington’s life.”

Mount Vernon’s relationship with CES is relatively new, but their shared connection with Washinton their partnership with Mount Vernon Horticulture and Gardens “a natural fit,” according to Associate Chair and Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Martin Connaughton.

The Mount Vernon Ladies Association of the Union and the Historical Horticultural Department at Mount Vernon gifted WC a tulip poplar sapling from a much bigger tree on the grounds of Mount Veron.

The sapling was planted two years ago but was unable to have an unveiling ceremony due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

After the tree dedication, participants were encouraged to migrate towards the Miller Library Terrace for the unveiling and dedication of the new Virginia Gent Decker Arboretum sign.

The dedication focused on the newly completed research done by Arboretum Interns senior Faith Waaramaa and sophomore Isabelle Leiphart who piloted a digital map for all the tagged trees on campus.

“I think my favorite part of this whole experience has been my change of mindset whenever  I  am outside,” Waaramaa said. “Everywhere I look, I am looking for clues on how to identify trees, and if I can’t identify a tree, I am very curious about the species and look into how I can identify it.”

After the dedication came to a close, attendees were invited to participate in activities such as flower pressing, bookmark making, a scavenger hunt,  and a tour of the Arboretum on campus guided by Leiphart and Waaramaa.

All attendees were encouraged to enter a raffle to win a $100 gift card to Watershed Alley in downtown Chestertown. Other gift cards to places such as Evergrain, Luisa’s, Stam’s Luncheonette, Procolino’s, and Play It Again Sams were available to anyone who completed the scavenger hunt around the Arboretum. 

“I think it’s important to acknowledge the history of the trees around campus, because the trees have seen so many students come and go, and they give back to the College by allowing for valuable environmental and biology experiences,”  Intern for CES freshman Alie Brewer said. “Arbor Day is a super fun event to be a part of planning, and I can say that not only myself but the entire CES faculty were so excited to get back to having an in person event after COVID-19.”

Photo by Kayla Thornton

Featured Photo Caption: As part of the Arbor Day Celebration, attendees gathered on the Miller Library Terrace at noon for the dedication of the new Virginia Grant Decker Arboretum sign.

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