An Idea Takes Root

In September 2008, Andy Duffie '78 was spending some time on the Texas A&M campus when his wanderings brought him to the Academic Plaza, and more specifically, to the Century Tree -- an iconic live oak which has graced the campus for generations of Aggies since the early 1900's.

At the time, the tree was carrying its annual harvest of autumn acorns. On a whim, Duffie picked a few acorns off the tree to take home with him as an experiment, to see if he could get them to sprout.

Unfortunately, the acorns proved uncooperative. But Duffie remained undaunted, and after another harvest of 50 acorns and another year of trial and error, he began to see signs of progress.

Duffie returned to campus a third time in October of 2010 with an ice chest and a goal in mind. He harvested 3,000 acorns with the intention of growing young Century Tree seedlings and selling them to Aggies across the nation in order to fund a prestigious $100,000 President's Endowed Scholarship at the Texas A&M Foundation.


Duffie's Backyard in Vernon, Texas in 2012. Photo courtesy of the Aggie Century Tree Project.

Duffie's Backyard in Vernon, Texas in 2012. Photo courtesy of the Aggie Century Tree Project.

The Growth of a Project

Once the seedlings were off to a successful start, Duffie started a Facebook page to document his project and raise awareness of his cause. He delivered his first two trees to Rodney '78 and Ann Boehm '79 of College Station in the fall of 2011.

By April 2012, Duffie's crop had outgrown his garage. The trees were moved to his backyard, where he continued to faithfully nurture them. By August, Duffie had pre-sold all of the young trees to Aggies across the United States.

 


Duffie presents The Century Tree President's Endowed Scholarship to Jody Ford '99 of the Texas A&M Foundation. Photo courtesy of the tamu times.

Duffie presents The Century Tree President's Endowed Scholarship to Jody Ford '99 of the Texas A&M Foundation. Photo courtesy of the tamu times.

Mission Accomplished

Duffie spent much of the autumn of 2012 delivering his trees to excited Aggies across the state. Filling three U-Haul trucks with his saplings, he made trips to Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, Abilene, San Angelo, Waco, and College Station to make his deliveries. He was always greeted with warmth and appreciation by Aggies of all ages.

He also shipped several of his Century Tree seedlings to Aggies outside of Texas, who were thrilled to have a piece of their beloved school to plant in their own yards.

In October 2012, Duffie presented the $100,000 Century Tree President's Endowed Scholarship to the Texas A&M Foundation. Thanks to the 374 Aggies who purchased 530 of his young trees, the Century Tree President's Endowed Scholarship will be awarded annually to a deserving Texas A&M student.

After he and his wife moved to College Station in 2014, Duffie decided to relaunch the project in order to meet the demand for young Century Trees still requested by Aggies across the nation. Each year, a new Endowed Scholarship is funded by the project.


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