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Austin Peay State University celebrates 20th anniversary of Plant the Campus Red

 

Austin Peay State University (APSU)

Austin Peay State University - APSUClarksville, TN – In the spring of 1999, an army of volunteers moved across the Austin Peay State University (APSU) campus, planting trees, shrubs and flowers to replace the ones recently destroyed by a powerful EF4 tornado.

Volunteers "Plant the Campus Red" at the annual campus beautification event on Thursday, April 20th, 2017. (Beth Lowary, APSU)

Volunteers “Plant the Campus Red” at the annual campus beautification event on Thursday, April 20th, 2017. (Beth Lowary, APSU)

“That tornado is why campus looks the way it does now, and has such diversity in its tree population,” Wes Powell, APSU assistant director of landscape and grounds, said. “Dr. (Edward) Chester in biology took it as an opportunity to get a bunch of trees on campus when he had a clean slate to work with.”

This massive replanting effort, known as Operation Restoration, helped bring together faculty, staff, students and local community members, deepening their connection with the local school.

A year later, the volunteers returned in work gloves and smelling of sunscreen to help continue the previous spring’s beautification efforts.

They transformed a one-time volunteer project into an Austin Peay tradition known as “Plant the Campus Red,” and on April 18th, a new generation of volunteers will celebrate the event’s 20th anniversary by planting some 4,000 flowers across campus.

“It is an all-inclusive volunteer event where faculty, staff, students and the community with the Montgomery County Master Gardeners all have a chance to volunteer together,” Powell said. “That’s one of my favorite parts about it. And it brightens up campus for the spring. We try and get it a couple weeks before graduation so everything is nice.”

While volunteers kneel in the dirt, adding flowers to freshly mulched beds around buildings, a tree will be planted on the Browning lawn to commemorate the event’s anniversary. And in the weeks following this year’s event, participants will likely see the University from a different perspective.

“It gives students an opportunity to take some ownership of part of campus and how it looks,” Powell said. “It’s a good stress relief right before finals for them.”

For information on Plant the Campus Red, visit www.apsu.edu/volunteer  


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