Mary Baldwin Students Plant 500 Saplings on ‘Sarah’s Slope’

April 1, 2006

“He who plants a tree, plants a hope,” wrote Lucy Larcom, 19th-century poet and hymn author.

If this statement is true, hope was abundant at Mary Baldwin University April 1 when students dug small holes to plant nearly 500 tree seedlings on campus. Donated by the Virginia Department of Forestry through the nearby Augusta Forestry Center, the tiny trees — a mix of conifers that will later be joined by hardwoods and ornamentals — populate a slope that leads to the athletic field between Prospect Stree and Coalter Street. The seedlings look like little more than sticks at present, but their real growth spurt will come in about three years, said Bruce Dorries, assistant professor of communication and project coordinator.

The activity is a service project for cadets in the Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership at the college, all of whom make a commitment to serve their community as students. It is also an environmental project, a safety project, a partnership with local and state organizations, and just a good reason to get outside, Dorries said. In addition to support from the Virginia Department of Forestry, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is on board to help the college pursue grant funding from the National Resource Conservation Council for future phases of landscaping and habitat work on campus. The tree planting is part of “service day,” an activity organized in partnership with the Augusta Lions Club.

The project follows recommendations set by the college’s recently released campus master plan , which maps out building and landscaping plans for the next 35 years. There are plans for the area to be named “Sarah’s Slope” in memory of VWIL alumna Sarah Small ’02, who died while serving in Egypt.

“The planting of trees is the least self-centered of all that we do,” according to Thornton Wilder, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and playwright.

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