The brick-and-mortar buildings that dot campus got their start from human hands, as did their leaf-and-limb counterparts.
Choice oak trees across Arkansas Tech’s campus are the result of cuttings, or small, four-to-six-inch limbs that were snipped from parent trees and planted to root and grow into their own trees.
“The trees are produced from one parent tree that was selected for characteristics that made it suitable to growing well in a variety of tough conditions – poor soils, droughts, et cetera,” Tech arborist and Brookwood Tree consultant Chris Hodges said in an email. “The cutting is then placed in a cool and moist greenhouse where roots hopefully form at the base of the cutting.”
Scientifically, cloning is not the proper technical term to define the birth and growth of these particular Tech trees.
“All of these trees were purchased from a grower called Select Trees,” said Brian Lasey, facilities management director.
Select Trees, a tree growth and propagation company located in Georgia, “birthed” and grew the trees until their maturation.
“The process they have produces a higher quality seedling,” Lasey said.
It was this higher quality seedling that drew Tech alumni Robert and Sandra Norman to the trees.
Robert Norman is quoted in the 2012 winter Tech Action Magazine as saying, “My interest in trees has been a long one. I love to plant a tree and track its growth.”
Aside from the scientific, Norman went on to say the visual drove him to donate the trees to Tech and its students.
“In manufacturing, I knew that people who worked in a clean environment would do better work,” he said. “I believe the same thing with students. I hope that the trees give them an additional sense of pride in their university.”
According to Jayne Jones, vice president for the office of development, the Normans have donated over 800 trees to date, each individual tree totaling $1,178 to purchase, transport and plant. With the cost of care and upkeep, Lasey said the trees are estimated to be worth $2,500.
The investment of money, time and care into Tech’s landscape is one that will hopefully last well into the university’s future.
“We all want this to be a landscape that lasts and is better one hundred years from now as it is today,” Hughes said in an email.