Celebrating Growth and Exploration: MVA Plants Artemis Generation Moon Tree

By Dr. Caryn Long, Director of Educational Technology and Innovation

On January 13, 1971, astronaut Stuart Roosa, a former United States Forest Service smoke jumper, and astronauts Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell launched from Kennedy Space Center to the moon. Packed in small containers were hundreds of tree seeds as part of a joint NASA/USFS project. Once these seeds were returned to Earth, they were germinated by the Forest Service and placed throughout the United States and the world, with many of them planted during our country’s Bicentennial Celebration in 1976. They continue to grow as a tribute to Roosa and the Apollo program.

Fast forward to November 16, 2022, NASA launched the Artemis I, an uncrewed rocket with the Orion Capsule on board. To celebrate our return to the moon, 1,000 tree seeds of loblolly pine, American sycamore, sweetgum, Douglas fir, and giant sequoia flew 270,000 miles from Earth before splashing down on December 11. Scientists specifically chose these four seed varieties based on the original Moon Tree flight and because they represent the most common species of trees in the lower 48 states.

MVA applied for a seedling last September and was one of 50 sites to be selected for the first distribution of the Artemis generation Moon Trees. 

On Monday, May 6, members of the Upper School STEM SAC, along with administrators from all three divisions and students, gathered next to Gebauer Hall to plant our sweet gum sapling.

Sanvhi Gandhi, Middle School Honor Council President, read a poem, written by Dr. Caryn Long, honoring the tree.

From Thneedville I’ve traveled to MVA
How did I get here? Let me explain if I may.
I heard NASA placed tree seeds on a rocket
They did it once before on a capsule called Apollo.

Those trees are now parents and grandparents too
Of seeds that have grown from their branches once new
Planted during your country’s bicentennial more than five decades ago
1971 to now, those seeds sure did grow!

NASA did it again! Put more tree seeds on Artemis I
That rocket that went past the moon and back home.
In the year 2022 on November, 16
The seeds experienced weightlessness after Earth and between

When Orion landed on 11 December
The seeds were taken out and transferred to the experts
All around the country in nurseries, they grew
From seeds to saplings and now one comes to you.

Here to MVA! The sapling will grow
In years to come this Sweetgum you will know
As the seed that once traveled through space and back
Growing and making its own impact.

Yes, I am the Lorax! I speak for this tree!
Take care of this sapling and you will see
This Sweet Gum that once flew past our moon as a seed
Will be taller and stronger than you ever believed.