For a Cleaner, Greener Future

Last fall Shenandoah Green, a local non-profit environmental group, launched The Legacy Tree Project with the goal of planting 2,745 trees in Staunton, one for every child in the Staunton City Schools. 

MBU’s Spencer Center for Civic and Global Engagement identified the Legacy Tree Project as one of its civic engagement programs for the year, and has sponsored several weekend planting sessions for MBU students to get their hands dirty for a good cause.

MBU student volunteers contribute to The Legacy Tree Project, which has a goal of planting 2,745 trees in Staunton.

“Shenandoah Green and the Staunton Legacy Tree Project have been overjoyed at the enthusiasm and dedication of the MB students in helping to plant trees,” said Georgi Tomisato, Shenandoah Green president. “The basketball team, the soccer team, the Program for the Exceptionally Gifted, and volunteers through the MBU Spencer Center for Civic and Global Engagement woke up early, walked long distances and worked hard to plant trees all over the city.” 

More trees in a city mean less air pollution, as well as more abundant homes for wildlife and higher-quality living environments. 

Special Programs Assistant in the Spencer Center India McCoy ‘21 has led the charge at MBU, collaborating with Shenandoah Green, promoting the project on campus, and recruiting and organizing volunteers. 

“The most meaningful part of organizing volunteers for the Legacy Tree Project has been seeing Mary Baldwin students volunteer to plant trees for a greater purpose of civic engagement in their local community,” McCoy said. “This project serves as a great opportunity for students to get off campus, be socially distanced, and engaged in the community for an environmentally friendly project.”

Special Programs Assistant in the Spencer Center India McCoy ‘21 (wearing the yellow shirt) in action at Gypsy Hill Park last fall

MBU students have planted seedlings and mature saplings in locations like Gypsy Hill Park, Staunton High School, McSwain Elementary School. Bell’s Lane, a turf-to-trees project on the North end, and neighborhood homes in collaboration with Habitat for Humanity. Student athletes from several MBU teams have joined the efforts as a group service project.

Over just two weekends in March, nearly 250 trees — many of them native varieties like American Hornbeam, fringe tree, yellowwood, tulip poplar, swamp white oak, and more — went in the ground. 

Planting on Bell’s Lane in Staunton

The outdoor nature of the work also allows MBU students to give back to the community in a safer setting during the pandemic.

The Legacy Tree Project, as a whole, started planting in the fall of 2020 and has added over 800 trees to Staunton so far.

“We appreciate MBU and look forward to a continued and growing relationship as our community tackles rising temperatures, flooding, plastic pollution, cleanups and other environmental issues together,” Tomisato said.

In addition to public spaces, students also planted trees in Staunton neighborhoods.