Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Students and faculty plant Class of ‘27 tree

The tree can be found outside Whitmore Building
Michael Amato

On the rainy morning of Oct. 20, students and faculty gathered to plant the Class of ’27 tree outside Whitmore Administration Building at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

“This is your tree. For the four years that you’re here, come visit it,” said Brady Yacek, campus arborist and technical assistant for Facilities & Campus Services and AVC Operations. “Spend some time under the tree, come back 20 years from now…it represents your class,” he added.

Michael Amato

The Class of ‘27 tree planting was the first of its kind this year. Contrary to the usual class tree planting in the spring, this year’s welcomed new students in the fall instead. Several tree plantings will occur over the year, including a Class of ‘26 tree and a Class of ‘25 tree, Yacek explained.

“It’s more inclusive bringing it in at the freshman year,” he said.  “From here on out, they will all be fall plantings.”

The Class of ’27 tree is a green gable black gum, the first of its kind on campus.

“[The green gable black gum tree] is an underutilized landscape tree, it has beautiful fall foliage,” said Head of Grounds Todd Cournoyer. “It’s also a native tree and produces a small fruit that birds love.”

Cournoyer added that the team is “always striving to increase the campus catalog of trees,” referencing the green gable black gum.

Michael Amato

The Frank A. Waugh Arboretum tracks species of trees throughout UMass, including this new addition. The Arboretum is dedicated to preserving trees on campus and encouraging the growth of new ones. Operating since 1944, the arboretum has earned several distinctions for its contributions to tree canopies and collections.

The planting was performed by senior students in the landscaping contracting program under Co-Chair of the Arboretum committee Professor Michael Davidsohn and in collaboration with UMass Landscape Management.

“How [the planting] is done is critical to the survival of the tree. We’re planting an organism that’s, hopefully, going to live for hundreds of years and it takes a lot of care and a lot of talented people, skilled people, to do that properly,” said Cournoyer.

Although Class of ’27 students were not present at the planting, UMass Chancellor Javier Reyes came to show his excitement about the tree. Shoveling soil, he thanked the senior landscape students and the groundskeepers for their amazing work.

Reyes wasn’t the only person excited about the newest addition to the tree canopy:

“The trees sequester carbon, they produce oxygen, they provide shade and we end up with one plant that offers so many ecological services to our campus,” said Davidsohn. “For the average student, it’s really about the beauty of the plant, the shade it provides [and] the color it provides.”

Admiring the light red leaves on the tree, Reyes said: “You’re making it a canvas, everyone can feel represented here.”

Alexandra Hill can be reached at [email protected]

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