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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Volunteers Dig in for Tornado-hit Arboretum

May 4, 2011

WOOSTER, Ohio -- Fifty-some high school and college students recently planted trees in Wooster’s tornado-damaged Secrest Arboretum, part of the Ohio Landscape Association’s (OLA) PLANET Day of Service.

“It’s cold, it’s rainy, it’s perfect for planting trees,” Bridget Comes said at the April 22 event. A landscaping instructor at the Medina County Career Center, she came with six of her students.

“We feel it’s important to give back to the community,” Comes said. “So rain or shine we felt it was important to be here. Our goal is to help the arboretum rebuild. But we’re also here to have fun and network. We’re plant geeks.”

A tornado last fall destroyed more than 1,000 trees in the arboretum and on the surrounding campus of Ohio State University’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC).

Students and teachers from the Wayne County Schools Career Center, Cuyahoga Community College and Ohio State’s Agricultural Technical Institute (ATI) pitched in, too, as did about 20 Ohio landscape companies, who sent workers, equipment, and trees and materials.

In the end, they put in some 200 new trees -- oaks, maples, crabapples and others.

“Many, many, many of our members and industry people across the state attended Ohio State or ATI,” OLA Executive Director Sandy Munley said. “It’s their alma mater, and it just means a lot to everyone in the industry to have this facility rebuilt and replanted.”

Tied in to Earth Day, PLANET Day of Service is a national effort led by the Professional Landcare Network, or PLANET. The purpose, according to the program’s website, is to give members of the lawn care and landscape industry an opportunity to plan, organize and carry out projects to benefit their communities.

OLA, as a member of PLANET, chose to focus on Secrest.

“I hope we can make a small dent in replacing some of the (plant) material that was lost in the tornado,” Munley said. “And I hope that the arboretum can really feel the love and support of the industry.”

OLA is a nonprofit trade association for landscape contractors and their suppliers, with members from all across Ohio. The group’s mission is to encourage professionalism and ethical standards among landscape contractors through educational opportunities and to promote the image of the landscape industry.

Secrest Arboretum is part of OARDC, which is the research arm of Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

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Kurt Knebusch
Sandy Munley