Think Chevron and you don't normally think about trees. And if for some reason you do, you certainly don't think about 4,000 of them.
You may want to reconsider the connection.
Hurricane Katrina not only figuratively uprooted lives and homes and dreams when it slammed into the U.S. Gulf Coast, it also literally uprooted many beautiful, old trees in and around the city, including an existing urban tree nursery in New Orleans City Park.
And that's where Chevron came in.
It rebuilt that nursery.
AAPG member George H. Rhoads, Chevron's geophysical coordinator for Gulf of Mexico shelf exploration, puts it this way:
"The New Orleans area lost a lot of trees because of Hurricane Katrina. One of the goals of the Chevron Tree Farm Project is to help resupply new trees to the community. To replant and re-grow the beauty of New Orleans."
Four thousand of them.
By planting that many in this new nursery, the company has been distributing the seedlings throughout the city and, with any luck, will one day replace the beauty of the trees swept away by thousands of gallons of Gulf water.
And AAPG members can help – literally. On Sunday afternoon, April 11, you can help.
As part of its Community Outreach Rebuilding New Orleans: A Volunteer Opportunity, Chevron is asking for volunteers to continue with the repotting of those trees, as well as help with fertilizing, trimming, insect control and moving of them throughout the city.
Rhoads says this effort is unique to the Association.
"This program is the first of its kind for an AAPG Convention. If it is successful, we may be able to add it as a regular event in other cities at future conventions."
In a sense, it is an afternoon field camp, complete with a box lunch.
"The Chevron Tree Farm," Rhoads said, "is a great first project for our community outreach program – after all, who better would like to work with the trees than people who love nature and the outdoors – and a love of nature and the outdoors is what got a lot of us interested in geology to start with."
Chevron’s tree farm currently contains approximately 4,000 potted tree-seedlings in “grow-out” mode. When ready, the trees are distributed throughout the New Orleans area by non-profit agencies and governmental units.
Almost 2,500 trees have already been given out from the stock.
As to why Chevron is involved, Rhoads says it not only has to do with the company's willingness to do good, but is also part of a change in the country's DNA over the past few years, one that has seen industry, in all professions, taking a more active role in the communities where it operates and its employees live.
"I think we have seen a huge resurgence of philanthropy in the United States over the last few years. A lot of people find it very rewarding to give back to other communities that are in need or that have had problems or disasters."
And no place has this been more in need, or continues to be, than New Orleans, a place Rhoads believes benefited from the generosity and support of many people and many organizations since Katrina.
"But what many people may not realize is that New Orleans is still recovering and rebuilding. We have made tremendous progress, but it is a long process," he said, adding that visitors, in fact, that come to New Orleans, may not see a difference in the city from before Katrina hit.
That, though, is mostly one of luck and proximity, he says, and not due to a general rebirth in the area.
"The major tourist areas were not hit as hard as many of the other areas of the city, and they look and function the same as before."
It is, he says, the rest of the city, the heart of it, which still needs repair and resuscitation.
"Believe me, to the residents, the city is still not back to where it was.”