On April 30, 2019, community forester Derek Lirange presented to a class at Mount Wachusett Community College about the importance of urban trees and their equitable distribution in our environmental justice focused presentation Gray to Green. Then we took the class outside for a tree planting training and worked with the students to plant five Purple Prince Crabapple trees on the lawn outside of their Science Center.  

This opportunity was facilitated when one of the school’s professors, Dr. Carrie Arnoldreached out to our program after reading about it in one of Tower Hill’s weekly e-blasts. She is the coordinator of a six-year seminar program serving STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) students who have received a scholarship. Each Tuesday their group meets from 4 to 6 p.m. to learn about a variety of topics in STEM fields from guest speakers. Dr. Arnold has recruited many guest speakers to present to her class and WTI received the honor of being the final guest speaker for the whole program.  

This cohort of students were undertaking studies in fields including, Physics, Biology, Computer Science, and Environmental Science. Nearing the end of their program many of the students already had some experience learning about plants, soils, and the environment, either from previous classes or from their own lives. With these foundations they came prepared to ask questions and eager to know more about the field of community forestry and urban horticulture. After the class several students came up to ask specific questions about trees, such as what varieties to plant for different purposes, and how trees react to transplanting. Another student expressed her excitement about the idea of urban forestry and environmental justice. She really grasped the value and importance of the field in a way she had never thought of before. 

And so, with eagerness and excitement, despite the chill in the air, five new trees were planted on campus. Our reception at Mount Wachusett Community College was warm and inviting and we look forward to further participation with the next group of motivated students.