River City Tree Planting Wildly Exceeds Expectations

This glowing report was sent in by SW-INPAWS leaders Davie Sue Wallace and Dona Bergman.

The River City Tree Committee is an informal group of people with similar interests and enthusiasms  – friends and colleagues who love nature, gardening and wildlife. 

In late 2011, the River City Tree Committee embarked on an ambitious project to encourage planting trees.  We wanted to plant 2012 trees in Vanderburgh County to commemorate Evansville’s bicentennial anniversary year.  In addition to planting trees, we hoped to raise awareness of the many benefits of trees, native species in particular, educate the public on “planting the right tree, in the right place, the right way”, and on tree care.  Although we had a strong preference for native trees, we definitely wanted to discourage invasive trees, such as “Tree of Heaven’. 

Alcoa volunteers (in blue shirts) Evansville Firefighters, Urban Forestry Staff, SWINPAWS & Master Gardener volunteers planted 25 trees at Fire Houses and enjoyed a picnic lunch afterward.

We felt it was important to provide as much public outreach and education as possible, to engage the public, particularly children, by offering fun events and activities.

Alcoa donated funds to pay an artist to design our logo; buy buttons for publicity and create our Facebook page, see http://www.facebook.com/2012TreesIn2012 .  Alcoa got our project off to a great start by giving away 600 native saplings (Tulip, Dogwood, Chestnut Oak and Cherrybark Oak) at Earth Day events held at Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden( http://www.meskerparkzoo.com/) and Wesselman Nature Center (www.wesselmannaturesociety.org). 

Vanderburgh County residents were invited to post photos of their tree to our Facebook page to be entered in a random drawing for a free tree.  The Facebook page also included lists of recommended trees, videos of proper planting techniques, information on tree care during the “Drought of O-12” and interesting tree trivia.

Our big kick off event also included Alcoa volunteers who came to help us plant 25 trees at three Evansville Fire Department facilities.  The firefighters showed their appreciation by hosting a picnic for the volunteers.  It was a great time!

Another fun event was our May 19 Plant Conservation Day event at Mesker Park Zoo – along with pulling kudzu and posing for Sky Art in red T-shirts, we planted native trees donated by Comb’s Landscape Nursery (www.combslandscape.com).  We enjoyed pulled pork sandwiches after “pulling” kudzu.

S’More Trees!  Our grand finale was also at Mesker Park Zoo on November 24 – Brownie, Daisy and Girl Scouts Troops #80, #65, and #458 helped us plant seven native bald cypress trees at Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden.  We jokingly referred to this project as “S’More Trees”, in reference to that famous, fireside treat enjoyed by Scouts.   In addition, the Girl Scouts decorated the newly planted bald cypress trees as well as many of the other trees at the Zoo with birdseed ornaments, many of which they made themselves.  Shawn Dickerson, City Arborist and Paul Bouseman, Mesker Zoo’s Botanic Curator provided instructions on proper tree planting for the Scouts in hopes that they will plant trees at home and around their communities. 

A portion of the trees were donated by Combs Landscaping and others were purchased through a Vanderburgh Soil and Water Conservation District Grant. The Evansville Audubon Society, Wild Birds Unlimited, and Pedia Research donated supplies for the Scouts to make the ornaments.  Afterwards, we warmed up with hot chocolate in the Zoo’s Rain Forest Grill.  

Did we make our goal of 2012 trees?  YES, WE DID!  The final count was an amazing 16,687 trees planted in Vanderburgh County! 

We don’t plan to stop promoting or planting native trees – keep on the lookout for 2013 activities!


    Any Perry wrote on March 24, 2013


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