By Teofilo Reyes, Ettling Center for Civic Leadership & Sustainability Community Outreach Coordinator, and Phillip Lopes, Assistant Facilities Director and Energy and the Environment Subcommittee Member
The University of the Incarnate Word took part in San Antonio’s Tree-Centennial program on Tuesday, May 2. The Tree-Centennial initiative, led and managed by the City of San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department, honors San Antonio’s Tricentennial (SA300) celebration to enhance the city’s tree canopy and green spaces by planting 300 trees over the course of 2018.
The program was launched with tree plantings at various higher education institutions across the city. The University of the Incarnate Word is a prominent institution for higher learning, not just in San Antonio or across the Texas region, but globally – serving students and communities throughout the world. UIW is participating in the Tree-Centennial program because it embodies the spirit of “citizenship and commitment to community” by bettering the places where we live, learn, labor and enjoy leisure in our city.
We chose to plant this beautiful Sierra Oak tree at the University of Incarnate Word’s new School of Osteopathic Medicine because this young oak tree will symbolize the budding growth and grandeur these medical students will achieve through serving the health needs of patients around the globe. We worked with our friends at Mortellaro’s Nursery in Schertz, Texas to find a fresh tree that is strong and beautiful, but also one that is native to the south, tolerant of heat and requires little watering once established. The Sierra Oak was the perfect fit.
Tree-Centennial is another great opportunity for UIW to expand its sustainability efforts across the San Antonio community. Pope Francis’ encyclical ‘Laudato Si’ demonstrates the responsibility not only as a single organization, but as habitants of this wonderful planet to take care of one another through compassion and action. Tree-Centennial is another step forward for UIW students, staff, and faculty to engage and educate the community on the various social, economic, and health benefits of being environmentally conscious.
Sustainability balances human development and growth with the welfare of the natural world, both in the present and for the future. The emphasis placed on social justice by the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word and the establishment of care for creation as a tenet of Catholic social teaching inspiring sustainability as a part of the university’s legacy. The University is committed to meeting people’s cultural, educational, economic, and ecological needs in ways that protect and restore the natural environment.
SA300 has beautifully celebrated the many facets that make San Antonio unique, and Tree-Centennial is another great example of what sustainability means to the citizens of San Antonio and the city’s legacy.