Planting 100 trees in honor of the university’s centennial

Combining beauty and education through an arboretum

More stories from Sydney Purpora


Photo by Kelsey Smith

UW-Eau Claire hosted a ceremonial tree planting in honor of the university’s centennial celebration Monday Oct. 24 between Davies and the Nursing Building, near the Council Oak tree.

The Centennial 100 Trees Project will add 100 trees to the campus by the end of spring, including 24 new tree species, increasing the university’s tree class to 107.

Ethan Fuhrman, a senior environmental public health student and the director of the Student Office of Sustainability (SOS), said the project goes in conjunction with the university’s centennial by bringing a different component that will last into the future.

“I think it is a very sustainable part of our centennial celebration,” Fuhrman said. “It is something that is going to outlast many of our other efforts here and will hopefully be around for even our bicentennial celebration.”

Once completed, the project will consist of a campus arboretum with approximately 15 labeled native trees and an interactive online map to get cultural history and scientific information about each species.

Crispin Pierce, a member of the Eau Claire Watershed Institute for Collaborative Environmental Studies, said the arboretum will be an ongoing learning opportunity for students, faculty and visitors.

“It will teach generations to come about these important species that are present and prominent in the Wisconsin landscape,” Pierce said.

The arboretum project was a combination of two strong components of Eau Claire, said Chancellor James Schmidt: campus’s beautiful scenery and selection by popular vote from a student survey regarding campus redevelopment.

“I love the idea of building on our strengths,” Schmidt said. “As we take a look at Wisconsin’s most beautiful campus, we wanted to make it a little more beautiful and also have it connect back to our educational mission.”  

The ceremony ended with the speakers shoveling fresh dirt onto a newly planted balsam fir tree, symbolizing the project’s initiation.

Kierstyn Fibert, a junior advertising student, said the project gives her a perspective on the university throughout history.

“I think it is important that they are doing an event like this that shows where we are and how many years we have been here,” Fibert said.

The SOS, a commission of the Eau Claire Student Senate, made a donation to fund the purchase of the trees for the celebration and they will continue to be planted throughout the coming months, finishing off in spring.

Chancellor Schmidt closed the ceremony by referring back to the beginning of the university and how the project will honor the founders’ vision for the future.

“We have a special responsibility entrusted to us by our founders 100 years ago to the stewardship of this land that has been entrusted to us by the people of Wisconsin,” Schmidt said. “We need to help people understand why and how the beautiful surroundings play a role in the campus.”