Home Education University of West Florida Pensacola campus becomes home to a ‘Moon Tree’

University of West Florida Pensacola campus becomes home to a ‘Moon Tree’

UWF Explore Campers plant the "Moon Tree" on the north lawn of Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering.

Today, the University of West Florida celebrated the planting of a “Moon Tree” seedling that flew around the moon on NASA’s Artemis 1 mission in 2022. UWF was selected from hundreds of organizations that applied to receive a seedling. UWF President Martha D. Saunders unveiled the loblolly pine during a ceremony at the north lawn of the Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering on UWF’s Pensacola campus.

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“We were thrilled to be selected to receive a ‘Moon Tree’ and look forward to the authentic learning moments that it will create on campus,” Saunders said. “I encourage everyone to take a walk on our beautiful campus and learn more about the history of the tree.”

NASA chose institutions based on criteria that evaluated their suitability to care for the various tree species and their ability to maximize educational opportunities around the life and growth of the tree in their communities.

“The ‘Moon Tree’ has such a unique story and its history will boost our existing educational efforts on campus by engaging others with the tree,” said Jeff Etheridge, UWF’s director of building and grounds management. “Our hope is that the tree will bridge the Apollo generation with the Artemis generation.”

UWF submitted its application in Fall 2023. In it, UWF included its commitment to community outreach to elementary, middle and high school students through UWF Explore Camps, with camps relating to space and nature; the UWF Leisure Learning program which has several events relating to gardening; UWF’s Community Garden run by the Kugelman Honors Program; and UWF’s Tree Campus Higher Education designation.

“NASA and space are exciting topics to teach and learn about for people of all ages, and the topics are limitless,” said Valerie Taylor, associate director of community programs. “Being able to visit the ‘Moon Tree’ during camp or through our other community programs and use that as a vehicle for learning moments, is a wonderful opportunity to spark an interest and excite generations of people.”

For more information about the “Moon Tree,” visit nasa.gov.

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Dana is an Arkansas native and a seasonal resident of the Gulf Coast since childhood. She was a Pensacola resident for 13 years, before moving to Gulf Breeze. Dana attributes her Mayberry-esque childhood in Warren, Arkansas, as enormously influential in honing her definitely Southern style of storytelling. She earned a degree in Journalism, Advertising/Public Relations from the University of Arkansas (Woo Pig Sooie!). In addition to writing, she loves photography, art, adventures in the great outdoors, and spending time with her three children.