Release Date: 
Thursday, April 22, 2021

Earth Day 2021 Tree Planting

A group of people outdoors wearing masks, preparing to plant trees
A dedicated group of HFC faculty, staff, and community members, led by Linda Brandt and Zac Polzin, prepares to plant trees funded by the new Tree Fund on the HFC main campus in honor of Earth Day.

In January 2021, HFC announced it was officially kicking off the HFC Tree Fund. Through the support of multiple donors in the HFC community, approximately 20 people were able to plant seven hackberry trees near the north entrance of HFC’s main campus on a chilly Earth Day 2021.

The hackberry (Celtis occidentalis) is a tree native to Michigan that supports local wildlife, birds, and pollinators. This year’s tree planting was coordinated by Linda Brandt and Zac Polzin, who are members of the HFC biology department and representatives from Sustainable HFC.

They worked with HFC Facilities, the HFC Office of Campus Safety, and the HFC Foundation, as well as faculty members and volunteers, including Mary Lane – who recently retired from the HFC Board of Trustees – to make this event happen.

A representative donor from each of the groups that donated was present to participate in and bear witness to the inaugural planting. This included a representative from the following:

  • The HFC Federation of Teachers (Local 1650)
  • The Adjunct Faculty Organization (AFO)
  • The Support Staff Association (SSA)
  • Local 71 Administrators Union
  • The HFC Student Council
  • The Student Environmental Association (SEA)

Why do we plant trees?

Trees have innate value for their beauty and aesthetics, and also practical value for the ecosystem services they provide for the planet. Brandt stated the three main ways of mitigating effect of human-induced climate change are:

  • Reducing human input of carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) into the atmosphere (replace fossil fuels with renewables)
  • Taking carbon dioxide and methane out of the atmosphere (carbon capture technologies)
  • Adapting to worsening climate conditions (flood and fire controls)

“These are three ways we can mitigate climate change,” said Brandt. “Our primary goals need to be focused on the first two of these. Planting native trees is one way to remove carbon dioxide (CO2). It also benefits pollinators, and we must remember that climate change is not our only environmental problem that we face.”

HFC alumnus lends a hand – and his trailer!

Dean Hay of Community Land Ethics, a Dearborn-based landscaping company, volunteered to help with the tree-planting. He used his landscaping trailer to deliver the trees and mulch.

Hay attended HFC in 1996, where he completed some coursework at HFC before he transferred to the University of Michigan. There, he earned his bachelor’s degree in urban planning and his master’s degree in landscape architecture. Hay has been in the area with his landscaping business, as well as volunteering with the Greening of Detroit and other organizations.

“We would have been hard pressed to make this planting happen without Dean,” said Polzin. “He helped advise on tree selection, the actual planting, and even volunteered his landscape trailer to do the delivery. When we found out he’s a Hawk, that was the icing on the cake!”

What’s next?

This year’s planting was a success, but the work is not done. Now, members of Sustainable HFC will work with facilities and divisions at the College to identify locations and tree selections for future plantings.

There were so many involved in making this event successful, according to Brandt. In particular, she and Polzin would like to thank the following HFC team members:

  • HFC Director of Facilities Reuben Brukley
  • HFC IEMP Coordinator Nick Paseiro
  • HFC Grounds Leader Paul Maitland and his grounds crew
  • HFC Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Michael Nealon
  • HFC Campus Safety Manager Karen Schoen
  • HFC Asst. Director, Advancement and Alumni Relations for the HFC Foundation Shai James-Boyd
  • HFC Special Assistant to the Vice President of Institutional Advancement and Foundation Diana Larson
  • Retired HFC biology faculty member Emily Nietering

“I’d also like to thank you every single donor and volunteer. We really would be nowhere without them,” said Polzin. “This really embodies what the HFC community is all about: Coming together for a worthy cause to make a difference in our local and global communities.”