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Two women and a man planting a tree for Purdue's Day of Service
Volunteers celebrated Arbor Day by planting 260 trees during the 2024 Purdue Day of Service

Volunteers celebrate Arbor Day during fourth Purdue Day of Service

Purdue Day of Service has always featured the planting of trees, so it only seemed fitting to hold the event at least once on Arbor Day.

That was the idea during a special Purdue Day of Service that took place Friday, April 26, when 100 volunteers converged at Horticulture Park on Purdue University’s flagship West Lafayette campus to plant trees and celebrate Arbor Day. Purdue has been an Arbor Day Foundation Tree Campus Higher Education institution since 2009.

Joining forces and digging deep

With support from staff from the Purdue Grounds department, volunteers worked in two shifts covering four hours to plant a variety of trees native to the region. A total of 260 trees were planted.

“I feel like Arbor Day is the perfect time to hold this event,” says Melvin Bracy, assistant director of academic support services for Purdue football. “Like most of the other volunteers, I’m here because I love to plant trees and I love nature. This is my third year participating, and I always enjoy it. I think it’s very important to volunteer whenever you can.”

Over four installments of the Purdue Day of Service, more than 450 volunteers have planted 861 trees at select campus locations.

  • The inaugural event in 2021 drew more than 100 volunteers, who braved bad weather to plant 62 trees and perform beautification work.
  • In 2022, the registration limit was reached in a matter of hours—and the total number of trees planted skyrocketed to 325.
  • The 2023 Purdue Day of Service saw a record 158 volunteers plant 214 trees at two separate locations.

“I think it’s important for Purdue to think about things like planting trees at the same time it’s expanding in so many other ways,” says first-time volunteer Kayla Fields (HHS’07), a senior research administration specialist with Sponsored Program Services at Purdue. “We haven’t always had the most beautiful campus, and I think the university is making a point of changing that. Purdue is a great school, so I think focusing on beautification a little and encouraging people to get out in nature will only enhance that.”

Commemorating a job well done

Purdue Grounds, which is part of Administrative Operations, unveiled a plaque that honors Purdue for Life volunteers at Horticulture Park before the afternoon session. According to Phil Richey, director of Purdue Grounds, the plaque celebrates both the record-breaking work volunteers performed during the 2022 Purdue Day of Service and his department’s four-year partnership with the foundation on the event.

“We have seen after a few years holding this event with Purdue for Life that this is a real win-win for our department and for the university,” Richey says. “It’s been a very successful partnership, and we wanted to thank Purdue for Life and all the volunteers with something special—something that will endure alongside these trees. It’s an important partnership, and we hope it remains strong moving forward.”

Celebrating Arbor Day together

Purdue University and the Purdue for Life Foundation created Purdue Day of Service in 2021 to encourage alumni and friends of the university to embrace volunteerism. This event aligns with Purdue’s 1869 Tree Planting Master Plan, which calls for planting 3,738 trees by fiscal year 2025, and the Sustainability Master Plan. The total number of trees to be planted was determined by doubling 1,869, which is the year Purdue was founded.

“Arbor Day and the Purdue Day of Service seem to go together so well, we thought it would be a good idea to hold this special spring event—and our volunteers responded very quickly to the opportunity,” says Maddy Vaughn, assistant director of volunteerism for Purdue for Life. “Of course, we expected no less—our alumni and friends have made this event such a huge success from the very start. Whether it’s the chance to beautify our beloved campus or a strong sense of Purdue pride, people just keep coming out to do their part.”

For more highlights from the 2024 Purdue Day of Service, check out our video and photo gallery. Anyone interested in exploring future opportunities to volunteer can visit our volunteerism webpage.

—Aaron Martin

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