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COOS BAY, OR –Southwestern Oregon Community is pleased to invite the community to celebrate the planting of a Moon Tree at 3 p.m., Wednesday, April 3, 2024, on its Coos Bay campus, 1988 Newmark Ave.

The ceremony will be held next to upper Empire Lake, at Tioga Hall. The area is accessible from Parking Lot 2 at the back of campus. Tasha Livingstone Davison, associate professor of Forestry and Natural Resources at Southwestern, will lead a tree walk after the ceremony, with a focus on the unique tree genera and species found on campus. The walk will be low impact and remain on flat ground. This is a free event. All ages are welcome.

Southwestern’s second-generation Moon Tree is a Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) grafted from trees grown from seeds that orbited the moon during NASA’s Apollo 14 mission. Southwestern received the tree in collaboration with Oregon State University and Oregon Department of Forestry to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the mission.

Each second-generation tree is named after an astronaut and Southwestern’s Moon Tree is “Gene”, in honor of Gene Cernan (Apollo 17) – the last astronaut to walk on the Moon. Southwestern’s hope is that the moon tree will inspire students to think big. Will a SWOCC student be the next astronaut to walk on the moon?

There is more to the Moon Tree connection to Coos Bay, though, dating back to Apollo 14 and astronaut Stuart Roosa. He was the mission’s command module pilot. He also had lived in Oregon in the 1960s and was a former U.S. Forest Service smoke jumper. Because Roosa loved Oregon’s forests and wanted to honor the Forest Service, he chose to carry hundreds of fir seeds into space as a scientific experiment.

image of a newspaper ad with text and a photo of an astronaut

Image of The World Newspaper, May 6, 1971

 

Roosa also loved Coos Bay. While learning about geology and prepping for the Apollo mission with other astronauts in Central Oregon in 1966, Roosa happened to meet Bob Perkins and Phil Waters, from Coos Bay. In a story from The World on May 6, 1971, Waters told the reporter that on that day in 1966 he and Perkins were exploring in the high desert terrain. They had not brought lunch. Roosa noticed them nearby and invited them to join the astronauts for a snack. That started a great friendship between Perkins and Roosa who visited Coos Bay several times.

The Apollo 14 mission to the Moon launched Jan. 31, 1971, sending Roosa, Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell into space until splashdown on Feb. 9, 1971. Perkins called the Roosa family after the mission and invited them to come back for a visit. NASA made it an official visit and when Roosa returned to Coos Bay on May 7, 1971, the city declared it Stuart Roosa Day. The community hosted a parade with the astronaut as grand marshal, while the College’s bagpipe group McLoughlin Highlanders and the SWOCC Stage Band played in the procession. (See attached image from The World Newspaper, May 6, 1971)

For more information about the event contact Tasha Livingstone Davison at Tasha.L.Davison@socc.edu.

For information about studying forestry or natural resources management at Southwestern visit www.socc.edu/forestry.

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