Shippensburg University will soon have its own orchard developing on campus.
Four SU students plan to plant 40 trees on campus in a research project that will simultaneously feed and educate the community.
Under the advisory of biology professor Nathan Thomas, biology students Kaitlin Yealy and Patrick Hadley, as well as education students Sarah Nocito and Minerva Hecker, will be introducing a variety of trees to SU’s campus.
The students plan to begin the project by sending their soil samples to Pennsylvania State University to assess its composition. They will analyze the effects the new trees have on the ecosystem and watch how the biodiversity changes within the soil, and find ways to serve Shippensburg’s community.
By partnering with Shippensburg Produce and Outreach, SU will use its orchard to nourish members of the community with the fruit the trees produce.
The students also hope to encourage the community to use this as an opportunity to learn about the land they live on and the benefits that come from analyzing the soil.
The experiment will also engage elementary students at the Grace B. Luhrs University Elementary School. Students will receive the opportunity to have a hands-on learning experience, such as learning about simple biology while they touch the soil and watch the trees develop.
California University of Pennsylvania (CALU) will be conducting its own analysis and will publish its findings representing western Pennsylvania, while SU will represent eastern Pennsylvania.
The two institutions have partnered with the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation in hopes to continue the research in the future.
The students are currently searching for the perfect place to conduct their experiment. They plan to start planting the trees in late-April or early-May, and are looking for volunteers to get involved with the planting process, according to Yealy.
“Get involved by coming out and seeing the orchard,” Yealy said. “If you’re interested in helping, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.”