By: Sthefany Flores
Earth Day is a day dedicated to raising awareness for the environment and adding to its development. This day is more than just a day on the calendar for Gardner-Webb’s Department of Social Sciences.
It may come as a surprise but for the majority of the last decade, the Social Sciences Department has been planting a tree for Earth Day. This year, the department was joined by Dr. David Carscaddon, dean of the Psychology Department, in donating money to purchase a pink weeping cherry tree.
“We came up with this idea many years ago when we were asked to do something for Earth Day,” said chair of the Social Sciences Department, Dr. Tim Vanderburg. “We thought that instead of doing a of poster presentation on recycling —which at the end of the day we would end up throwing away, adding to the bulk waste— we could do something that would be somewhat permanent.”
This tradition was founded by Dr. Michael Kuchinsky, a former professor of Political Science, and been maintained by the department ever since.
Two of the first trees planted have been dedicated to past professors of the Social Sciences Department. Dr. Anthony Eastman and the late Dr. Barry E. Hambright have both been commemorated with a living monument.
The annual planting has taken on a new source of inspiration for the department in the past few years.
“We are mindful that we lost trees when the student center was built,” said Vanderbilt. “We’re not exactly replacing those trees because they were larger but we’re doing what we can to put more trees on campus.”
The department donates money for the trees, which are placed with the help of the campus’ grounds crew. Amongst the trees planted are a Japanese Maple Tree, a White and a Pink Weeping Cherry Tree, Evergreens and more.
The tree selection process involves the input of the whole department and has been a source of quiet pride.
Dr. Donna Ellington said, “We want to beautify the campus in a practical manner that benefits the environment.”
The department’s newest professor Dr. Elizabeth Amato is also very appreciative of the practice.
“This is actually a new practice for me,” she said. “I’m very excited that Gardner-Webb does this, none of my previous departments did anything for Earth Day. I hope that in the future we can make this a broader practice.”
The trees are located in the area behind the Social Sciences Department and near the spring that leads to the Suites. They can be spotted by their youth and their radiant colors.