Biology professor Jeff Larkin took four students to participate in a volunteer project to plant 15,000 trees and shrubs at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa., on April 21.


Team IUP, left to right: Mack Frantz, Wendy Leuenberger, Professor Jeff Larkin, Julie Scott, and Rich Gatesman

The planned reforestation, part of the overall landscape design of the memorial, entails the planting of 150,000 trees by approximately 600 volunteers working under the guidance of tree-planting experts and professional landscapers.

Larkin and the students participated in the first stage of the reforestation: planting nearly 15,000 seedlings.

The event's organizing committee asked the students to play leadership roles in helping/instructing other volunteers, and “they performed their roles exceptionally,” said Larkin.

“I was proud to be a part of such a special event at such a sacred place,” he said. “To be there in the company of these terrific students and all the other dedicated volunteers made it that much more special to me."


Students Julie Scott and Mack Frantz help prepare buckets with various seedling species.

The seedlings, a mixture of a dozen native conifer and deciduous species, will grow to form an essential windbreak to protect trees planted in nearby memorial groves.

Student Wendy Leuenberger said she “learned a lot about reforesting efforts from the professionals who led the project” and enjoyed talking with fellow volunteers as they worked together.

“It was a great way to contribute to both the memorial and the environment," she said.

"This was a special event to be a part of and represent IUP at,” said graduate student Mack Frantz. “Not just from the ecological good that comes from reforesting a part of Appalachian Region, but also from the perspective that the site is such a special place.

“The Flight 93 Memorial will be visited by many generations to come. It's cool to be a part of that history."


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