Spring ISD’s Jenkins Elementary School received a piece of Texas history on Nov. 15 during a tree-planting ceremony, thanks to the Harris County Precinct 4’s Legacy Trees Project.
During the tree planting ceremony, a group of second-grade students were able to participate in front of Jenkins’ campus while learning the origins of the tree and other historic trees of Texas. Jenkins is one of multiple locations across the Houston-area to receive a sapling tree, grown from an acorn collected from the Century Tree located on the campus of Texas A&M University in College Station. Considered a symbol of strength and loyalty, the Century Tree has grown on the college campus dating back to the early 1900s.
“We collect seed from historical Texas trees all over the state that are very big and old, so we pick some of these special trees to grow because some of them are literally on their last limbs,” said Laura Medick, an arborist with Harris County Precinct 4. “We’re trying to collect to preserve history and to share it with the community so that we can pass on the stories.”
Medick says the trees normally take more than 30 years to grow and will reach 100 feet in diameter. She says she hopes the project will encourage kids and families to get outside and be active within parks throughout Harris County.
In 2015, Precinct 4’s Legacy Trees Project began with a mission of bringing historic trees featured in the Texas A&M Forest Service’s Famous Trees of Texas to Precinct 4. Harris County Commissioner R. Jack Cagle later expanded the program to include heirloom fruit trees.
“Commissioner Cagle loves history and nature conservation, so this event puts the two together,” said Kent Clingerman, community assistant with Harris County Precinct 4. “It gets the kids involved at a young age to be interested in nature conservation and taking care of the land, while learning a little Texas history at the same time. It’s a win/win for everyone, and the landscape gets more beautiful in the process.”
The program now includes opportunities for schools and nonprofits to plant historic trees through the Foster-A-Legacy Tree program across the Houston-area. This season, the program received 3,000 native Texas trees and 800 century trees through a grant, with Jenkins Elementary being the first recipient in Spring ISD.
“What you have to realize is this is our tree now, so it’s our responsibility to make sure we take care of it and that no one is doing anything to damage it,” Jenkins Assistant Principal Wesley Vaughn told his group of students. “Think about it: You all are in the second grade now, so there’s three more years here to watch the tree grow. Now, we can set our own traditions and routines here at Jenkins.”
For more information about Precinct 4’s Legacy Trees Project, visit www.hcp4.net/legacytrees/.