Envirothon Team Receives Survivor Tree

A seedling from the famed Oklahoma City bombing is donated


Photo courtesy R. Wilder

The plaque at the bottom of the newly planted tree details Spartanburg Soil and Water’s generous donation.

Sarah McMeekin, Entertainment Editor

The Spartanburg Soil and Water Conservation District recognized the success of the Envirothon team by donating a seedling from the famous Oklahoma City bombing. The American Elm seedling was planted in the front of the school accompanying a ceremony to honor the donation and the accomplishments of the Envirothon teamThe ceremony was attended by members of the community, representatives from Spartanburg Soil and Water and was reported by Fox Carolina News.  

Rob Wilder has been the coach of the Envirothon team for many years and was honored to receive the donation. To see photos provided by Wilder, click here.

What better way to recognize the SHS Envirothon teams’ accomplishments and resilience, than to plant an American Elm tree, Ulmus Americana, that can live up to 300 years,” Wilder said. “That this tree is a direct descendant of the American Elm that survived the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995, makes it that much more meaningful. 

The Envirothon team has achieved many accomplishments since it began in 1999. The team placed at national competition in both 2016 and 2019. Envirothon consists of 10 students, with four on both A and B teams and two alternates. At the ceremony, these students helped to plant the survivor tree, each taking turns shoveling in dirt. Spartanburg Soil and Water Conservation District has sponsored the Envirothon team since it began, donating the tree in honor of their relationship to the team and its accomplishments. 

I think the survivor tree symbolizes resilience. For something so beautiful to come out of such a devastating event is amazing.

— Anna Buchart

The infamous Oklahoma City bombing took place in 1995 and was a deadly act of homegrown terrorism. Timothy McVeigh, a former army soldier and security guard, planted a bomb in a locked car, killing over 100 civilians and destroying local buildings. In contrast to the mass destruction left by the explosion, an American Elm tree located near the site of the bombing was left untouched and coined the Survivor Tree. The tree was almost chopped down to recover evidence that hung to its branches, but instead became a landmark symbol of hope. 

According the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum, their mission is to spread seedlings of the Survivor Tree across the nation and world. Seedlings can be found all over the country, including one at the White House lawn and in a park in Brooklyn honoring 9/11 survivors. The tree is given as a way of spreading hope, making it an honor to be received by the Envirothon team.

Anna Buchart (10) is new to Envirothon this year.

I think the survivor tree symbolizes resilience. For something so beautiful to come out of such a devastating event is amazing,” Buchart said. “It is so special that Envirothon and Spartanburg High School were able receive this tree so it can continue to spread the message of hope.”