The longest tradition for the MU Forestry Club, their annual Christmas tree sale, kicked off this year at Faurot Field on Dec. 5 and ran until Dec. 7. The club has been hosting this sale since the 1960s as the primary fundraiser for their Timber Sports Team competitions.
Christmas trees were not the only items for sale; handmade wreaths were also available. The Forestry Club had originally planned to continue the Christmas tree sale the following weekend, but the first week’s sales went so well that they ended up having a blowout sale on the Dec. 7.
The Forestry Club raises the Scotch pine trees they sell at a tree farm just east of Columbia, as well as having others shipped in to be sold.
“The trees that aren’t raised at the tree farm come from places like Ontario and Nova Scotia, Canada, as well as North Carolina, where the environment is a little more friendly,” said Shawn Teachout, Forestry Club president.
The Forestry Club currently has 15 active members. A lot of work goes into the Christmas tree sale event, and it takes all members to get the job done.
“We have a student member that is in charge of the Christmas tree farm,” said Abby Kircher, Forestry Club tree farm manager. “That person is responsible for setting up the event and putting the sale together, with the help of the club president.”
Kircher said serving as the Forestry Club tree farm manager is a huge time commitment.
“The manager and students organizes everything, but we definitely do get a lot of help from our faculty adviser and other forestry faculty and staff,” Kircher said. “For the most part, it is a student-run event, and we all help when it comes time to sell the trees.”
Planning and preparing for the tree sale is a yearlong event. Immediately after sales are over, the club begins preparations for the next year’s sales. The Forestry Club members spend much of their time year-round at the tree farm planting, pruning and applying colorant to the trees.
“June is the prime time to prune Christmas trees to get that Christmas tree shape,” Kircher said. “We will spend several days out there during June pruning all of the trees, new and old.”
Once the “June prune” is over, the members move on to coloration of the trees.
“We apply a colorant on the trees to make sure that they keep their green color through the holidays,” Kircher said. “We apply it a month or so in advance to sales so that the color can bleed out a little and look more natural.”
In years past, proceeds from the sale have been used to support the clubs trips to compete in lumberjack competitions around the Midwest. The club also donates some of the proceeds to charities of their choice. This year, the Forestry Club is donating to two charities: Adopt-a-Family and United Way.
“Christmas trees were chosen because of its relation to our school and the forestry program,” Kircher said. “It is a more meaningful fundraiser than having a bake sale, at least for the Forestry Club.”
Kircher said her favorite part of the event is the bonding time that members get with each other.
“Our club is like a family,” Kircher said. “So it’s a good way for us to get to know our new family members.”