Gannon University students on Saturday, Sept. 15 will plant more than 135 trees in the City of Erie generally and within the University’s Erie-GAINS neighborhood specifically.

The Erie-GAINS (Gannon Alliances to Improve Neighborhood Sustainability) neighborhood is comprised of about 200 city blocks bordered by Presque Isle Bay to the north, Parade Street to the east, 11th Street to the south and the Bayfront Parkway to the west.

The “TreeVitalize” project will involve nearly 200 Gannon students, as well as faculty and staff, planting the trees as part of the University’s annual GIVE (Gannon’s Invitation to Volunteer Everywhere) Day. In addition to TreeVitalize, students, faculty, staff and alumni will participate in GIVE Day by volunteering for numerous local agencies, organizations and projects, including the International Coastal Cleanup at Presque Isle.

For the TreeVitalize project, Gannon University is partnering with Environment Erie, the Lake Erie Arboretum at Frontier Park (LEAF) and the City of Erie, among others. The project received valuable funding from TreeVitalize, a partnership to restore tree cover in communities across Pennsylvania. The goal of TreeVitalize, launched by the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources as a public-private partnership, is to plant 1 million trees in Pennsylvania over five years.

Gannon’s TreeVitalize project is designed to promote community engagement, beautify neighborhoods and increase the number of trees in predominantly urban areas. In selecting locations for new trees in the Erie-GAINS neighborhood, those properties with few or no trees, as well as areas with trees that have died, were prioritized.

Gannon also hopes to use the trees to foster a greater understanding, among children in the area, of the importance of environmental stewardship and sustainability, which are key aspects of Erie-GAINS.

In addition, a small fruit orchard already has been planted in Frontier Park. In April, Gannon students planted cherry, apple and pear trees along the southeastern boundary of the park during United Way Day of Caring. As those trees mature, the fruit will be donated to local food banks and the orchard will be used to teach children about nutrition and healthy eating.

Gannon has worked with foresters from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), Penn State Cooperative Extension Service and with the City of Erie’s arborist, Sarah Galloway, to identify planting sites based on residents and businesses that have requested new trees. Galloway also has helped Gannon identify species of trees that are best-suited for urban environments, including American Hornbeam, Eastern Redbud, Giant Grey Dogwood, Kwanzan Cherry, Autumn Brilliance Serviceberry and Tulip Trees.

Other project partners include the City of Erie Fire Department and Pennsylvania Army National Guard, HHC 1st Battalion, 112th Infantry in Cambridge Springs. The fire department and the guard, which is providing a 300-gallon tank, will help with the watering of the trees as they are planted on Sept. 15.

Trees will be planted in the boulevards and right-of-way strips in the following areas in the City of Erie:

  • Zero block of West Fourth and East Fourth streets
  • 100 block of West Fourth, West Fifth, West Sixth, Chestnut and Poplar streets
  • 200 block of Myrtle, Chestnut, West Fifth, East Fourth and East Ninth streets
  • 300 block of Cherry, Liberty, Myrtle, Chestnut, West Second, West Third and West Seventh streets
  • 400 block of Cascade, West Third, West Fourth, West Seventh, West Ninth, Sassafras and State streets
  • 500 block of Myrtle, Cherry, West Fourth, West Sixth, West 10th and West 11th streets
  • 600 block of Chestnut, German, West Eighth, West Ninth, West 10th and West 11th streets
  • 700 block of Sassafras Street, West Ninth and West 10th streets
  • 800 block of German and West 10th streets
  • 900 block of West Eighth, West Ninth, West 10th and West 11th streets
  • 1000 block of West Third, West 10th and West 11th streets
  • 1100 block of West 10th Street
  • 1200 block of West 10th and West 11th streets
  • 1300 block of West 10th Street.

Gannon volunteers will work with property owners over a three-year period to ensure that the trees are properly maintained and flourish, returning twice annually to mulch and prune. Residents will receive individual certificates of ownership for the trees that include instructions on how to care for them. The trees and maintenance are being provided by Gannon to the homeowners free of charge.

This year’s GIVE Day is Gannon’s 15th annual. It is sponsored by the Gannon Center for Social Concerns with support from Erie-GAINS, Gannon’s Office of Service-Learning, Office of University Marketing, Athletics Department and Panhellenic Council.

Gannon University is a Catholic, Diocesan university offering nearly 100 academic programs, including doctoral programs in physical therapy and organizational learning and leadership. Gannon enrolls more than 4,000 academically talented and diverse students.

This article was originally published on September 13th, 2012 on