Gannon students and faculty ‘TreeVitalize’ Erie community

Gannon University’s students and faculty planted more than 130 trees in the city of Erie Saturday.

This community service project was part of a tree revitalization initiative created by the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

The program began in September 2012 and the mission was to plant one million trees across Pennsylvania over a five-year span. Gannon has been involved with the program since it was created in a partnership with the city of Erie and TreeVitalize. Gannon’s involvement is supervised by Director of Service Learning Gretchen Fairley.

The first phase of planting took place in 2012 and also involved the planting of over 130 trees.

Saturday marked the second phase of Gannon students planting in Erie and was funded by a $30,000 grant from TreeVitalize.

The trees were planted mostly in the Erie-GAINS neighborhood, which is made up of about 200 blocks framed by Presque Isle Bay to the north, Parade Street to the east, 11th Street to the south and the Bayfront parkway to the west.

However, some trees were planted as far south as 32nd Street and there were also trees planted as far north as the Bayfront Maritime Center on Presque Isle Bay.

Over 200 students were involved in the planting, as well as many Gannon faculty members and the Gannon grounds department. The main targets for the “TreeVitalization” in the Erie-GAINS neighborhood were urban areas that had few or no trees, or areas that had dead trees from harsh Erie winters since the original planting.

The purpose of the program is not only to revitalize trees in the area, it also looks to promote community engagement and get students involved.

Mike Wellington, supervisor of the Gannon grounds department, has been working the TreeVitalize program since it began at Gannon.

Wellington said the grounds crew supports the program by delivering the trees to the various locations before the students arrive. After the students plant the trees, the grounds crew comes back to mulch the trees and clean any debris left behind.

“I enjoy educating the students on how to plant and care for a tree,” Wellington said. “I feel people don’t always get the opportunity to learn this skill. It’s a lot of work, but I like getting the students involved.”

He also said he doesn’t mind all the work because he approves of what the TreeVitalize program is doing.

“All the work we do, getting the trees delivered and solving any problems that come up,” is worth it Wellington said. “It’s all to support the TreeVitalize mission and the students and faculty that are involved here at Gannon.”


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