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Seed of an idea

Grassroots initiative adds 53 new trees to Highland Springs

Created date

April 11th, 2016
Highland Springs residents (from left) Joe Bendzick and Patty O’Steen worked with Janet Hargett and Rick Maucieri of Grant Leighton Associates of Texas to coordinate the community’s Living Tribute project.

Highland Springs residents (from left) Joe Bendzick and Patty O’Steen worked with Janet Hargett and Rick Maucieri of Grant Leighton Associates of Texas to coordinate the community’s Living Tribute project.

President Theodore Roosevelt once said, “To exist as a nation, to prosper as a state, and to live as a people, we must have trees.”

People who live at Highland Springs are taking Roosevelt’s mandate to heart. In April 2015, the North Dallas community launched a Living Tribute initiative, giving residents the opportunity to purchase a tree to be planted at Highland Springs in honor or memory of a friend or loved one.

“We introduced the Living Tribute project at our Earth Day/Arbor Day Expo last year,” says Patty O’Steen, expo chairperson and a member of the Conservation Committee. “The response far exceeded our expectations. We sold 33 trees during the expo.”

Donors had their choice of four trees—Little Gem magnolia, live oak, burr oak, or chinquapin oak.

“We worked with our landscaping partner, Grant Leighton Associates of Texas, to identify four trees that would flourish at Highland Springs,” says Patty.

Collaborative project

As 2015 progressed, residents purchased additional trees, bringing the total up to 53.

“We had such a large order that Janet Hargett, our project manager with Grant Leighton, visited Fannin Tree Farms and personally tagged the trees bound for Highland Springs,” says Patty. “This project was a collaboration between residents and the community. Residents purchased the trees. Highland Springs paid for the transport, installation, irrigation, and a commemorative plaque for each tree.”

The trees were installed in December 2015, and the community celebrated the plantings at a tree dedication service in January 2016.

“Our residents started with an idea and turned it into something very meaningful,” says Matt Neville, executive director at Highland Springs. “These Living Tribute trees will enhance our community for years to come.”

Lasting beauty

Highland Springs community member Joe Bendzick helped coordinate the Living Tribute project.

“Trees are my hobby,” says Joe. “My wife Mary would tell you that I’m rarely in a parking lot and not picking up acorns. It gives me great pleasure to grow a tree from a seed and gift it to someone.”

Now, surveying the new trees on campus, Joe says it’s rewarding to see the urban forest come to life.

“Every time I drive around the east side of the community, I see the row of Little Gem magnolias and it makes me smile,” says Joe.

Ongoing endeavor

The Living Tribute initiative will continue based on the groundswell of enthusiasm from residents.

“We had residents who donated trees in honor of their grandchildren and vice versa,” says Patty. “Now the project has branched out even more. We have residents considering a tree donation in honor of their favorite organizations. I’m thrilled this idea has been embraced by so many. It’s a unique and green way to pay tribute in a meaningful way.”

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