On June 6, cars snaked around the west end of Ted Runner Stadium at the University of Redlands. But drivers didn’t come for a sporting event—they came to pick up free trees.
The event grew out of a partnership between the University and Esri, a Redlands-based technology company, in an effort to fortify the region’s urban forest and promote environmental stewardship. Choosing from four different species—cedar, oak, cherry, and pine—each household was given two trees to plant.
“The University is pleased to support this inspired project, which raises the collective environmental consciousness in Redlands,” said University of Redlands President Ralph W. Kuncl. “Thousands of trees will be planted in our local communities resulting in abundant benefits including cleaner air and the shade and beauty that enhance the charm of Redlands.”
“Climate change involves all of us,” said Jack Dangermond, Esri founder and president. “Personal and local actions can make a big difference. Esri is proud to partner with the University of Redlands to provide trees to residents of the City of Redlands and other communities who are eager to help sustain our environment through this initiative.”
The state’s COVID-19 “stay at home” order postponed the tree giveaway initially planned for elementary students in the Redlands Unified School District. However, ensuring those trees found homes created an opportunity for organizers to open up the giveaway to the entire community, while also providing access to information on tree planting and care, benefits of trees, learning resources, and more.
Director of Alumni and Community Relations Shelli Stockton said that recipients drove from throughout Southern California to pick up their trees. Gavin Jewell ’23 was glad to see community members come together to participate in the event. “I'm a big believer in community, and I feel like giving these trees back creates a sense of unity,” he said.
In addition to combating climate change and bringing together the community, the trees come with their own set of ecological, social, health, and financial benefits. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one acre of forest absorbs six tons of carbon dioxide and puts out four tons of oxygen, which is enough to meet the annual needs of 18 people. Studies have also shown that trees and well-landscaped areas make people feel safer and are associated with lower crime rates and heightened levels of activity for children.
Learn more about the tree giveaway and access the resources from the event.