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ESF Faculty, Students Help Set Guinness World Record

A group of people on the ESF campus can now boast about being Guinness World Record holders.

A group of students, alumni and faculty were part of the record-breaking effort to plant the largest number of trees in an hour across North America.

The Sustainable Forestry Initiative Inc. (SFI) and its partners set a world record by planting 202,935 trees in 60 minutes. SFI partnered with 29 teams of 25 to 100 people each to plant trees in locations from New York City to Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

Several members of the ESF community joined with their colleagues at ReEnergy Holdings during the spring event, according to Dr. Timothy Volk, a senior research associate in the Department of Forest and Natural Resources Management (FNRM).

ReEnergy Holdings is a partner in the college's willow biomass project. ReEnergy operates wood-fired power plants in Northern New York and has signed a long-term contract with the U.S. Army to sell renewable power to Fort Drum for 20 years so all the power at Fort Drum is renewable, explained Volk. The company has also assisted in willow expansion efforts by signing contracts with landowners to purchase all the willow they grow for 11 years.

"This provides a lot of certainty in terms of a market for landowners who are wondering where they could sell willow if they were to grow it," said Volk.

"When ReEnergy contacted me this spring and asked if I wanted to participate in this tree planting effort, I thought it was a great opportunity for ESF to be involved in an initiative that is a core value of the college over 100 years," said Volk.

Volk then gathered faculty, staff and students to join the effort. The planting site in Sand Flat State Forest, Boonville, New York, was prepared by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, which also provided the trees.

Said Justin Heavey, senior research support specialist in FNRM and '11 ESF graduate, "Setting the world record makes it more memorable and neat. But the real benefit is the fact that over 200,000 trees got planted all across North America. Maybe this will inspire others to try to break the new record and plant another 250,000 or 300,000 trees."

ESF record setters were Volk; Heavey; Karl Hallen, a research support specialist in FNRM; Sheng Yang, a graduate student in the Department of Environmental Resources Engineering; Yang Qui and Nathan Sleight, graduate students in the Department of Environmental Science; Isaac Knipfing '15 a sustainable energy and management major; Erin Carr '15 and Andrew Sussman '15, both environmental science majors; and Mary Thompson, an instructor in FNRM

"It was a great opportunity to engage in the community with various partners to plant trees, which to me seems like a typical ESF thing to do," said Volk. "In addition, we got to participate in an effort to set a new world record, which does not happen every day."