Trevecca Nazarene University

Trevecca celebrates Earth Day

Trevecca is celebrating Earth Day this year by participating in the restoration of the American Chestnut.

Following chapel on Tuesday, April 22, University President Dan Boone, President Emeritus Homer Adams, and Trevecca students participated in the planting of two seedlings obtained form the American Chestnut Foundation. Boone refered to the planting and the signifigance of the tree in the morning’s chapel message "Looking Back... Looking Ahead." Gregory Weaver, M.D., President of the Tennessee Chapter of the American Chestnut Society, brought the seedlings and talked about their significance with those who gathered. The trees were planted in front of the Greathouse Science building.

The American Chesthut tree was very important in the development of America. Because it was lighter than oak, very straight grained, and was rot resistant as redwood, it was prized by rail splitters for laying of rail beds. It was most numerous in the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee and on the Cumberland Plateau. It is estimated that there were 4 billion chestnut trees in the Eastern forests. The tree grew straight and branch free up to 50 feet in forest stands.

In 1904 a deadly fungus was accidentally introduced into New York City from Asia, and it moved with great speed across the country. Birds, bears, squirrel, and deer were dependant on the chestnut which annually produced large crops of nuts in spite of late frosts. Rural cabins and smokehouses accumulated this fall cash crop and sold it to eastern cities where street vendors sold them, particularly at holiday times. By 1974 George Hepting, Chief Pathologist of the U.S. Forest Service declared in Journal of Forest History  that there was probably no hope for the American Chestnut and the squirrel population might be drastically depleted due to lack of their favorite food.

Groups of interested volunteers began working to improve the resistance of the tree, and reduce the virulence of the fungus. The trees planted on Earth Day are 15/16 American chestnut and have some, but not complete resistance to the blight. Trevecca will also be working to restore the Chestnut to the nearby Chestnut Hill neighborhood, especially in partnership with Napier Elementary School.

Read more information about Tennessee Chapter of the American Chestnut Foundation at