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Union Pacific and Trees For Houston Launch Collaborative Tree Planting Initiative in Fifth Ward

A significant step towards enhancing environmental sustainability and improving air quality was taken as Union Pacific Railroad and Trees For Houston joined forces to plant new trees at Julia C. Hester House in Fifth Ward. This collaborative effort marks a promising beginning in the quest to foster greener, healthier communities throughout the city.

Sherea McKenzie, the executive director of Hester House, expressed her enthusiasm for the initiative, emphasizing the long-term benefits it will bring to Fifth Ward residents. “The beautiful trees planted here will provide shade and cleaner air for the Fifth Ward residents we serve for generations to come,” said McKenzie. “We’re pleased Trees For Houston chose our historic site to kick off its collaboration with Union Pacific.”

The tree planting event saw the active participation of volunteers from Union Pacific, Trees For Houston, and the local community, who came together to plant 20 trees on the grounds of Hester House. With a legacy spanning over 80 years, Hester House has been instrumental in providing essential services focused on youth development and workforce training in Fifth Ward.

Beth Whited, President of Union Pacific, expressed optimism about the project, highlighting the manifold benefits of planting and maintaining trees in urban areas. “We look forward to seeing these new trees grow tall and strong thanks to the dedicated work of Trees For Houston,” said Whited. “We believe planting and maintaining trees improves air quality and brings natural beauty to neighborhoods across the city.”

This collaborative endeavor signifies the commencement of a two-year partnership between Union Pacific and Trees For Houston. The primary objective of this collaboration is to augment Houston’s urban canopy cover, thereby fostering cleaner air, cooler temperatures, and aesthetically enhanced neighborhoods for city residents.

Barry Ward, Executive Director of Trees For Houston, underscored the significance of the partnership in expanding green spaces across Houston communities. “This collaboration allows us to make an even greater impact in communities needing more green space,” said Ward. “We are excited to partner with Union Pacific to expand our tree planting work across more Houston neighborhoods.”

The partnership operates under Union Pacific’s Community Ties Giving Program, which allocated over $700,000 to Houston non-profit organizations in 2023. Local grants are distributed based on the program’s four priority cause areas: safety, workforce development, community spaces, and environmental sustainability. The grant application period for 2024 opens in April, offering further opportunities for community-driven initiatives aimed at enhancing Houston’s social and environmental landscape.