The Catholic University of America

April 22, 2009

CUA Celebrates Earth Day by Planting 35 Trees 

Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. and University President Very Rev. David M. O'Connell, C.M., plant a black gum tree in celebration of Earth Day.

Very Rev. David M. O'Connell, C.M., president of Catholic University, was joined by nearly 140 volunteers and Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr., on the misty morning of Earth Day, April 22, to plant 35 trees, pull weeds and spread mulch throughout campus in honor of the national day celebrating the earth and the environment. (See video here.)

"For us at CUA, honoring the earth and the environment is not simply a matter of responding to an important social, political or secular cause - it is a way of celebrating our Creator and the gifts of His creation," Father O'Connell has said.

He and Councilmember Thomas helped to plant a black gum tree on the mall near McGivney Hall.

"I think that taking care of the environment is very important," said senior politics major Ryan Lynch from Toms River, N.J., while planting a tree. "This seems like the perfect opportunity to not only do something for the earth, but also make our campus look great."

Teams worked through the morning to dig into muddy soil and break large rocks free from the holes. In addition to planting trees, volunteers - who included students, faculty and staff - also spread mulch around plantings on campus and pulled weeds from existing beds. 

Seniors Ryan Lynch of Toms River, N.J., and Andrew Pagano of Huntingdon Valley, Pa., plant a tree on CUA's mall.

The 35 trees planted on the CUA mall adjacent to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception were donated to the university by Casey Trees, a non-profit organization in Washington, D.C., that aims to enhance the tree canopy of the city. "I hope this is just the beginning of many more plantings on campus," said Sue Erhardt, director of education for Casey Trees, to Father O'Connell at the event.

The donated trees include dawn redwoods, willow oak, deodar cedars, cryptomerias and black gums. These trees are native to the area or are considered suitable for the city's urban environment.

The tree planting proved to be a learning experience for some volunteers. "I wasn't aware there were certain steps involved," said senior business management major Andrew Pagano, from Huntingdon Valley, Pa. "You don't just dig a hole and throw a tree in there."

To read a Catholic News Service article about the event, click here.

Catholic University provided lunch for the volunteers and sponsors after the beautification around campus was complete.