Mississippi State faculty, staff and students celebrated Arbor Day today [Feb. 12] by planting trees on the MSU Drill Field.
Nationally celebrated in April, Mississippi's Arbor Day observance occurs on the second Friday in February, similar to other southern states that adjust the holiday in the warmer climate to ensure better survival of newly planted trees.
According to the MSU Extension Service, forestry and forest products in Mississippi have an economic impact of $13.12 billion annually, making trees essential to the livelihoods of Mississippians. With more than two-thirds of the state—or roughly 20 million acres—covered in forested land, trees are also critical to environmental health.
Joshua Granger, assistant professor in the Department of Forestry and chair of the MSU Tree Campus Higher Education Advisory Committee, said the annual event is an opportunity to appreciate trees beyond their aesthetic beauty.
"Trees are one of the first attributes you notice on our campus. They're prominent, long-lived and provide a lot of different resources that people value. A ceremony like this brings that value forward," he said. "This tradition is an excellent opportunity to engage younger generations. As these students return later in their lives as alumni, they'll be able to enjoy the visible difference they've made on our campus by planting trees."
Henry Zeringue, a junior forestry major, serves on the MSU Tree Campus Higher Education Advisory Committee as an undergraduate representative and is an officer of the MSU student chapter of the Society of American Foresters. This was the second year he has participated in the MSU tree planting to celebrate Arbor Day.
"Participating in an event like this gives me a sense of professional pride knowing that what I'm doing helps our broader student body understand the basic needs and value of trees," Zeringue said. "The event also demonstrates the benefits of trees in the campus environment, which provide shade, improved water quality, wildlife habitat and quality of life for students, faculty and staff."
The Lafayette, Louisiana native who grew up in Southaven, said the event also emphasizes the importance of trees in a populated setting.
"This shows the community how important trees are not just in general, but for each of us as individuals. Trees make people healthier and happier."
The ninth annual tree planting is sponsored by the MSU Tree Campus Higher Education Advisory Committee, MSU Campus Services and the Division of Finance and Administration. The MSU student chapter of the Society of America Foresters, and David and Elizabeth Waldorf Endowed Scholarship recipients, also participated in the planting.
For more information about the Tree Campus Higher Education Advisory Committee, contact Granger at firstname.lastname@example.org or (662) 325-0596. For more on the Department of Forestry, visit https://www.cfr.msstate.edu/forestry. The College of Forest Resources can be found at www.cfr.msstate.edu.