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UNO Has 65 New Trees

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On Thursday, more than 30 volunteers and coordinators gathered on the campus quad to plant 65 trees. Led by local nonprofit NOLA Tree Project, the plans for the entire affair were conceived and pursued by student body president Nigel Watkins.

“This was his brainchild.” said Connie Uddo, executive director of NOLA Tree Project. “He just wanted to see more trees on campus.”

Watkins initiated the planning stage late last year. “We’ve been working with NOLA Tree Project since November,” he said.

Uddo highlighted the fact that the venture would not have been possible if not for the volunteered labor and supplies. Hailing from Indiana State University’s chapter of Campus Crusade for Christ International (Cru), 28 multicultural students traveled to New Orleans on one of their regular mission trips. On this particular trip, they toiled to make Watkin’s idea a reality.

According to Uddo, Bayou Tree Service donated the mulch and local tree farmers on the Northshore donated the trees.

As a result, the exploit was far less expensive than it might have been.

“This is equal to about a $15,000 project, and we’re doing it for $5,000,” Uddo said.

“We really wanted to get New Orleans trees down here – oak trees, maple trees – just some really strong Southern trees,” said Watkins. “I love how big these trees get, and how old they get.”

But the endeavour was not based on a whim. It was undertaken as a part of the sustainability initiatives promoted by President John Nicklow. The addition of 65 trees will, in time, greatly affect UNO’s daily environment.

The hope is that these trees can use the groundwater and help prevent flooding during heavy rains. “This is a pretty high-flooding area,” stated Watkins. “The water has nowhere to go.”

“This is not just a beautification project,” said Uddo. “It’s important that students and college campuses understand the environmental impact of trees.”

She pointed out that the trees would “offset the carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide” in the surrounding area, as well as provide more shade, reduce the ambient temperature and “keep the campus cooler.”

Trees are also known to raise property values, and new trees might make for a friendlier, more beautiful campus, which may encourage enrollment. Watkins added that UNO visitors and current students alike could benefit from the improved atmosphere.

“We bought a bunch of hammocks,” he said, which UNO students can use on the trees already providing shade around the campus.

“New Orleans lost 100,000 trees due to Katrina,” said Uddo. Since then, the NOLA Tree Project has planted more than 44,927 trees overall, according to its website. But it is a local initiative to not only supply the metropolitan area with more foliage, but to aid the community overall.

“We don’t just do trees, we do disaster relief work,” Uddo stated, citing the organization’s history of providing aid after Hurricane Harvey, recent Baton Rouge floods, the Aug. 5 flood, and tornadoes in New Orleans East.

People interested in helping the NOLA Tree Project in the future can visit nolatreeproject.org and hit the volunteer tab at the top of the site. Further tree evangelism exists in the form of Soul NOLA, a similar organization whose website offers advice on how to start planting trees in public spaces at soulnola.org/next-steps.

 

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UNO Has 65 New Trees