Student volunteers from the College of Staten Island and other City University of New York schools braved light rain and muggy conditions to gather on the north end of the CSI campus to plant 750 small trees as part of the CUNY-wide Dig-In tree-planting initiative.

Katrina Hannan, a sophomore, who is majoring in English and Psychology, commented that she joined the project because she, like the other students, was there to “plant trees on our campus and make it look prettier.”

Noor Daoud, a sophomore majoring in Information Systems, noted that, “we’re here because we want more trees, a better environment, and more green [on campus].”

Dana Merced, a Psychology major, who hopes to graduate this May, said, “I’m a treehugger. That’s what my family has told me all my life, and here I’m, hugging trees.”

James Steinberg a graduating senior, majoring in Biology, emphasized the social aspect of the project, saying that “it’s just a nice community thing to do…We have a great campus with a lot of really great people on it and it’s really nice to spend time with one another.”

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Robert Kee, Coordinator of Student Leadership Development at CSI, said, “Like all of the programs in the Office of Student Life, we try to make sure that students have a balance of extracurricular civic engagement activities to give back to the community and apply things that they learned in the classroom outside of the classroom. This is a reforestation project where students get a chance to take pride in their campus…People just want to give back and make a difference.”

Carol Brower, Acting Associate Dean for Student Affairs, noted that the Dig-In is important for the students because, “it helps the students take pride in our campus and feel like they’re a part of it in doing something to improve it. The morale out there is incredible,” she added. “Their loving doing this, they’re digging in the dirt, and they’re saying, ‘This is my tree.’ We talk all the time about increasing our students’ pride in the campus. This is a phenomenal way to do it.”

These trees and 800 larger trees, which are being installed by professional landscapers, are being planted on the CSI campus under the auspices of MillionTreesNYC, an effort launched by NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York Restoration Project (NYRP) founder, Bette Midler. The City of New York Parks & Recreation Department has partnered with the NYRP to plant trees throughout the five boroughs, with a goal of one million trees by 2017.

Other programs at CSI that promote environmental stewardship include the Sustainability Council, RideShare program, Ferry Shuttle, and the “adopt a parking lot” initiative.

Nearly 130 volunteers, one of the largest groups citywide, planted 750 trees at CSI in 4 hours.