November 3, 2023
East Texas Baptist University faculty, staff, and students gathered on the University grounds to plant trees and contribute to the beautification of campus on the official Texas State Arbor Day. While National Arbor Day occurs in late April, Texas Arbor Day takes place on the first Friday in November due to cooler temperatures across the state. ETBU observes Texas Arbor Day to provide a unique opportunity for students to be involved with the tree-planting process.
"I think it is important for students to be involved with the beautification of ETBU's campus," ETBU senior business administration major Zachary Schmidt said. "The addition of these trees not only makes our campus look better but also serves as a reminder of how God as the Creator provides for our needs in abundance. It's a tangible symbol of His love and sustenance in our lives."
The group of Tiger students and student-athletes planted two live oak trees on the front lawn of campus across the street from ETBU's historic Marshall Hall.
Jonathan Cole, Resource Specialist for the Harrison County Texas A&M Forest Service, shared the history of Texas Arbor Day celebrations and spoke to the group about the importance of trees, especially for the East Texas region.
"Trees provide shade to keep us and our homes cool on hot summer days, give off vital oxygen through photosynthesis, absorb harmful pollutants, reduce noise pollution, and give us products such as chewing gum, crayons, soap, suntan lotion, cork, writing paper, perfume, pencils, building materials, and even life-saving drugs," Cole said. "As they say, 'Trees are a gift you give the future.'"
The event at East Texas Baptist was one of more than 70 Texas A&M Forest Service presentations across the state on Texas Arbor Day as the organization strives to increase awareness of the benefits and value of trees.
Assistant Professor of Biology Derek Royer led those gathered in an invocation and offered an encouraging reminder of how the simple act of planting a tree mirrors the growth process in one's walk with Christ.
"Trees are commonplace in the sprawling Piney Woods of East Texas," Dr. Royer said. "However, this unique opportunity to plant a young oak tree reminded us that growth requires fertile soil, healthy roots, photosynthesis, and time. This glimpse of God's creative handiwork reminds us of His faithfulness. It is my prayer that each student's experience at ETBU is like a young tree purposefully placed in a manicured landscape. I pray our students experience a firm sense of belonging and grow deep roots socially, spiritually, and vocationally. May the fertile soil of a Christ-centered education and the transformational power of the Holy Spirit cultivate growth and faithfulness in their lives so that they bear fruit wherever God calls them to serve."