The Naturalist School led a group of Creighton and Omaha Central High students in a project to plant trees in the Old Market on Nov. 5.
The Putting Down Roots Committee, a Creighton student group, is working towards establishing carbon offsets through planting trees, grasses and other plants around the Omaha community. Jay Leighter, an associate professor of Communication studies, along with other faculty in the sustainability department started the committee, which has raised $15,000 to put toward their efforts.
Teresa Kooima a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences, reflected upon her work with the Naturalist School. The school is run out of Hitchcock Nature Center and provides an education for those seeking engagement in citizen science, nature education and conservation.
“Planting trees in the Old Market was a fun and educational experience with the Naturalist School,” said Kooima.
Kooima acknowledged how important it was that the trees were grown from acorns in the Omaha area.
“When planting trees with the intention of lowering the amount of carbon dioxide in the air, it’s necessary to source the tree sustainably as well,” said Kooima. “If you ship in a sapling from the other side of the country, it will put more carbon dioxide into the air than it will ever remove.”
Dakota Wagner is a College of Arts and Sciences senior who took part in the planting with Kooima. Both said a big take away was learning that planting trees is more complicated than one may think. If you want it to maintain a healthy life you need to take into account the way the roots grow, the amount of trunk that’s exposed and consider planting native grasses around the tree to mimic their natural communities.
“Our goal is to bring a larger awareness and accountability to Creighton in terms of our collective impact on the environment and align it with Jesuit values of service and justice,” said Wagner.
According to ucsusa.org data compiled by the Energy Information Agency, the United States is second behind China for producing the most Carbon Dioxide Emissions worldwide. This makes America alone accountable for 17 percent of the world’s carbon emissions.
The Putting Down Roots Committee is taking part in efforts to minimize these outputs while simultaneously informing students about the best ways to establish carbon offset in an urban ecosystem.