The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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A tradition grows

Century+Tree
Photo by Photo by: Kathryn Perez
Century Tree

A &M fans have the chance to take home their very own piece of campus through the Aggie Century Tree Project.
Andy Duffie, Class of 1978, founded the Aggie Century Tree Project in 2010. Duffie collects acorns from the Century Tree, raises them for a year and sells them to Aggies around the state and country. The profit made from the first round of sales was donated to the President’s Endowed Scholarship.
Duffie said this year he plans to award the profits to a student with an endowed Aggie Ring scholarship. Next year, he plans to award a Corps of Cadets scholarship. 
“Theoretically, every year there will be a new scholarship,” Duffie said. “This is my way of giving back to A&M and the students. I’m paying it forward, just like others did in my day.” 
Duffie said the idea for the project came to him when he was on campus for his 30-year class reunion in 2008. While walking near the Century Tree, he noticed some acorns and decided to take them home. While the initial acorns didn’t grow, he returned in 2009 to pick 50 more. Ten sprouted. 
“I started raising the first trees in 2010 and grew them for two years,” Duffie said. “I picked 3,000 acorns, put them in an ice chest then planted them and 540 sprouted. I raised 530 for two years and sold them to Aggies all over Texas.”
Duffie said when he first sold the trees in 2012, they were 4 to 6 feet tall, and he delivered them on weekends in U-Haul trucks. This became a hassle, so the second time he grew them for one year instead of two. 
“This time they were 15 to 18 inches tall, and I shipped them out on UPS and some were picked up from my home,” Duffie said.
Duffie said he knew from the beginning the project was going to be successful. Sure enough, he raised $100,000 in 2012 and donated it to the Former Student’s Association for a Presidential Endowed Scholarship.
The first scholarship was awarded in the fall of 2014 to Aaron DePaul, mechanical engineering sophomore and member of the Corps of Cadets. DePaul will receive the scholarship for his entire college career if he maintains a certain GPA.  
“My parents aren’t able to pay for school, so I applied for the President’s Endowed Scholarship and was awarded this scholarship,” DePaul said. “It has motivated me to study harder and get better grades.”
Marsha Heap, Class of 1979 and owner of a Century Tree offspring, said she initially heard of the project through Facebook in 2012. 
“I jumped on it as soon as I could,” Heap said. “I tried for years to sprout my own tree and it never happened.”
Heap said she loves that Duffie is selling the seedlings to give back to the university. 
“Andy is the perfect person to do it,” Heap said. “He has a great network and a green thumb. They sold out so fast the first year, we were lucky to get one. The second time we jumped on it.”
Heap said this project gives Aggies the opportunity to take something from the university home with them and pass on to their children. 
“Personally I walk to my front yard and see my Century Tree and I see my campus,” Heap said. “I remember my time at A&M and it’s such a symbolic part of A&M and the traditions. This brings A&M back to students regardless of where they are.”
Heap said she thinks this project will continue forever because future classes will want to be part of it. 
“There will be more need for scholarship money in the future,” Heap said. “Anything you can do so students don’t leave school with $80,000 debt each year. If it means using acorns, we got to use what we have.”
The Aggie Century Tree Project has an active Facebook page and a website where seedlings can be purchased.

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  • Century Tree

    Photo by Photo by: Kathryn Perez
  • Century Tree

    Photo by Photo by: Kathryn Perez
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    Photo by Photo by: Kathryn Perez
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