Tree Planting Ceremony at French Elementary and Jenkins Elementary Schools

Two famous Texas trees now have new homes in Precinct 4.

Harris County Precinct 4 donated a descendant of the Borden Oak to Klein ISD’s French Elementary and a descendant of the Century Tree to Spring ISD’s Jenkins Elementary schools earlier in November.

“This is a great way to teach children about Texas history and the importance of trees,” said Laura Medick, an arborist with Precinct 4’s Legacy Trees Project. “We hope to plant many more historic trees at schools and nonprofits throughout Precinct 4.”

Commissioner R. Jack Cagle started Precinct 4’s Legacy Trees Project in 2015 with a mission to bring historic trees featured in the Texas A&M Forest Service’s Famous Trees of Texas to Precinct 4. He later expanded the program to include heirloom fruit and nut trees. The program now includes opportunities for schools and nonprofits to plant historic trees through the Foster-A-Legacy Tree program.

French Elementary was the first school to receive a historic tree through the program. Paula Witzke, a parent at French Elementary, applied for the program after bringing her children to a historic tree planting ceremony at Mercer Botanic Gardens last year.

“I was fascinated by the idea of legacy trees and how beautifully they help preserve our history, and I wanted to share that with our school,” she said. “Getting children excited about nature and their environment is so valuable and important to their future. This tree planting at our school gave my son and his fellow schoolmates the amazing opportunity to become stewards of their environment and community.”

The sapling was grown from a side shoot of the famous Borden Oak, one of the few trees that survived the Great Galveston Storm of 1900. After the storm, Galveston residents raised the ground level of the island with sand and shell dredged from the bay. Although the salty soil killed most other trees, the Borden Oak survived after the owner, Thomas Henry Borden, built a dike around the tree to protect it. The Borden Oak’s base now stands approximately 5 feet below ground level.

“Here at French Elementary, we love watching our students grow and flourish, and it’s going to be such a privilege to watch this tree grow and flourish as well,” said French Elementary principal Holly Conroy.

Jenkins Elementary also has close ties with Precinct 4. The school is a few miles from Precinct 4’s Mercer Botanic Gardens, which students visit during field trips. That relationship will now grow even stronger thanks to the donation of the Century Tree on Nov. 15.

Considered a symbol of strength and loyalty, the Century Tree has grown on the Texas A&M University campus in College Station since at least the early 1900s. Countless marriage proposals and weddings under the tree have sparked a legend that couples who walk under the tree will remain together forever. The Century Tree is one of the state’s top 100 trees featured in Texas A&M Forest Service’s Famous Trees of Texas.

“The students and staff at Jenkins are thrilled to be part of this historic tree planting,” said Principal Tiffany Weston. “As our students grow and mature alongside this very special tree, they will be making memories here at Jenkins that will last a lifetime. Hopefully, they may come back in 30 years when this tree is full-grown and remember this moment.”

To keep the trees healthy, Medick will provide monthly checkups and a care guide to each school. With proper care, live oak trees can live hundreds of years.

For more information about Precinct 4’s Legacy Trees Project, visit Legacy Trees.