USTrees Works to Offset USTís Carbon Footprint
The University of St. Thomas Environmental Science and Studies (ESS) Program has begun USTrees, a student-initiated effort to plant trees to help offset the University’s carbon footprint. Working with Howard Rose, assistant vice president of facilities operations, who supplied the necessary data, the students calculated that USTrees will need to plant about 25,000 trees to compensate for the University’s current energy use.
The group took the initial steps to reach their ambitious goal by inviting students, faculty and staff to plant 3,000 trees over the course of the 2008 fall semester. The plantings are scheduled over two weekends – Nov. 7 and 8, and Dec. 5 and 6 – when each weekend, 1,500 trees will find a new home on Goat Island, a 70-acre island in the Port of Houston across from the San Jacinto Monument and Battleship. The trees were generously supplied by a grant from the Apache Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Apache Corporation.
This service learning project, under the direction of Sister Damien Marie Savino, FSE, collaborates with the Odyssey program and provides an opportunity for more than 200 UST students, many of them freshmen, to be involved. USTrees also exemplifies the new Environmental Science and Studies program’s integrated approach to creation, rooted in the Catholic intellectual tradition and the liberal arts. The ESS program educates students as to the basic science underlying environmental issues, along with the moral imperative to care for the earth according to the teachings of the Church.
“This is a time for the students to be outside, participate in a restoration project, and build community as they work together,” Sr. Damien Marie said. “The students will also be reflecting on our role as humans in creation.”
UST’s Environmentally Concerned Organization of Students (ECOS) members and introductory environmental science students participated in an estimated 14 tree-plantings last year, an accomplishment that garnered the Arbor Day Award from Trees for Houston. The award recognized the students for planting more than 700 trees in the Houston area in the 2007-2008 school year.
View Channel 2 KPRC News report on the tree-planting and the ESS program:
Student plant trees to erase carbon footprint:
University offers 'green' degree:
For more information about the degree program, visit the ESS home page.