Anniversary trees grown in soil from each South Dakota county being shipped to sites statewide

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This Aug. 22, 2014 photo provided by Gov. Dennis Daugaard's office shows Altman Studeny in Pierre, S.D., preparing some of the trees growing in soil collected from all 66 South Dakota counties that will be delivered to sites across the state in the next two weeks. Studeny, an artist from Plankinton, S.D, spearheaded the project aimed at helping celebrate South Dakota's 125th anniversary of statehood this year. (AP Photo/Courtesy of Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s office)


PIERRE, South Dakota — Trees growing in soil collected from all 66 counties will be delivered to sites across the state in the next two weeks, to help celebrate South Dakota's 125th anniversary of statehood this year.

The project dubbed "Grow: 66/125" was spearheaded by Plankinton teacher and artist Altman Studeny, who collected the soil from each county in June, mixed it together in 5-gallon buckets, and planted the bur oaks.

"Just as every county is uniquely itself, so is its soil," Studeny said. "But, only when all of those wonderful differences are combined can our state grow to be the type of forward-thinking environment that improves upon the dreams of the past to persevere long into the future."

The bur oak grows in each region of South Dakota and can live for centuries. A 50-foot-tall bur oak in Wessington Springs that is believed to be the state's oldest is thought to be almost 400 years old —long before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. It's a reminder that South Dakota's history began long before statehood, according to Studeny.

"The deeper one's roots, the more firmly does one stand when the gale winds blow," he said.

The trees have been on display in Pierre, along a walking path near the state Capitol. They will now be delivered to historic sites in each county, Gov. Dennis Daugaard said.

The trees could grow to full height in time for the state's bicentennial, 75 years from now.

South Dakota has been celebrating its quasquicentennial all year, with events across the state. They will culminate with an event in Pierre on Nov. 1. President Benjamin Harrison on Nov. 2, 1889, signed the admission papers for both South Dakota and North Dakota. North Dakota became the 39th state and South Dakota the 40th.

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