By Douglas M. Campbell
Thirty-three volunteers approached a small field with a pair of gloves in one hand and shovels in the other Nov. 19 at N. Hine Street,. Their goal? To create a series of micro-forests.
Youngstown State University’s Legacy Forest was created by a committee of faculty and staff led by Lauren Schroeder, an emeritus professor, to combat climate change by implementing more trees into the community.
“This project will demonstrate the severity of climate warming and how we can become engaged in combating it. It’s the most serious problem young people face in this generation. Led by activities like this, we demonstrate how serious it is and what we can do about it,” Schroeder said
Colleen McLean, an associate professor in physics, astronomy, geology and environmental science, described how the professors recruited the help of the university.
“We sent a letter to President Tressel with this proposal request,” she said. “It was about February that Dr. Steven Hanzely contacted the YSU Foundation and we were able to meet with them and that is when they gave us the green light.”
McLean said the project was 100% donor-funded through the YSU Foundation, which financed Legacy Forests’ purchase of trees.
The Legacy Forest aimed to plant one tree for every incoming freshman to YSU. Five species of trees were planted, which include: white pine, sycamore, black gum, sugar maple and tulip poplar.
At the inaugural location, 600 trees were planted. Roughly 1,200 trees for the remainder of the freshman class are planned to be planted for a project aimed for spring of 2021.
Due to COVID-19, the program implemented safety procedures to keep volunteers safe, such as enforcing mask-wearing, signing in, checking temperatures and sanitizing hands.
YSU President Jim Tressel, who attended the event, showed his support in the opening ceremony.
“So often people talk about things that need to get done and there are others that say, ‘Do something.’ You are doing something that hasn’t been done on a college campus. This makes us awfully proud,” Tressel said.
Gianna Battaglia, a sophomore environmental science major, is excited to be a part of this project and hopes it inspires change.
“I hope that a lot of other people see it and think, ‘Okay, if they’re making that much of an impact, what can I do to make that much of an impact?’ I hope a lot of colleges or universities and everything follow what we do,” Battaglia said.
Mason Borawiec, a senior environmental studies major, is a member of the student committee for Legacy Forest and is heavily involved in promotion.
“As members of the student committee, we’ve handled the marketing and outreach wing of the Legacy Forest. Our committee made the logo and all of the promotional materials as far as posters,” Borawiec said.
The student committee also created a website, promoted the group through Instagram and plans to create a Facebook page.
For more information, students can visit Legacy Forests’ website.