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‘Trees for Threes’ gives basketball players extra incentive

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Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns basketball players are launching three-point shots for more than an opportunity to put points on the scoreboard.

For each three-pointer nailed by men’s and women’s basketball players in February, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette will gain another tree, thanks to the “Trees for Threes” project being overseen by the Office of Sustainability.

“Based on the final tally of three-pointers, students will plant a variety of native trees that will be purchased from local nurseries,” said Monica Rowand, the University’s sustainability coordinator.

Trees and shrubs will be planted across campus on Saturday, March 30 during the Big Event. As part of the annual, daylong community service project, hundreds of student volunteers plant trees, pick up litter, paint schools and public park facilities, and remove illegal signs from roadways and medians.

“Trees for Threes” is modeled on programs coordinated by the Green Sports Alliance, a nonprofit based in Portland, Oregon. The alliance was started in 2010 by several professional sports teams, including the Seattle Seahawks, Portland Trail Blazers, Seattle Mariners and Vancouver Canucks.

It relies on the influence of sports and athletes to promote healthy, sustainable communities, according to its website. Alliance members represent nearly 600 sports teams and venues from 15 sports leagues in 14 countries.

Mike Hess, the University’s manager of grounds, said he is hopeful the first-year project can be expanded because it has the potential to increase students’ pride in campus. “If it works out, we may try to plant some trees near the Ragin’ Cajuns Athletic Complex so student-athletes can have a reminder of their contributions,” he said.

“Trees for Threes” enhances the University’s already strong commitment to landscaping.

In 1901, Dr. Edwin Stephens planted live oak seedlings on what was then an open field near the intersection of Johnston Street and University Avenue. The campus has blossomed into one that now holds about 250 live oak trees, and a total of more than 2,000 trees and large shrubs. Species include cypress, magnolia and Yaupon Holly trees.

UL Lafayette’s trees have helped its campus earn a reputation as one of the more beautiful in the country. It has also earned continual praise from the Arbor Day Foundation, which recently named the University a Tree Campus USA for the 10th consecutive year.

The Tree Campus USA designation recognizes colleges and universities for nurturing trees and involving students and staff in conservation practices. The national program was created in 2008.

Learn more about the “Trees for Threes” initiative or the Green Sports Alliance.