Growing notoriety

Martin CipolliniDr. Martin Cipollini recently shared the Georgia Public Broadcasting airwaves with Rolling Stones keyboardist and environmental activist Chuck Leavell as part of a radio segment spotlighting efforts to restore the American chestnut tree. Cipollini has been working with The American Chestnut Foundation since 2004, but his interest in the threatened species dates to childhood.

“I grew up in a rural area, and when my father and I found chestnut trees out in the woods, he always told me about the fungal blight which nearly destroyed the species in the early 20th century,” the Berry professor explained. “We were never able to get those trees to survive long enough to produce nuts. So when I later learned The American Chestnut Foundation had made significant progress in helping to bring the trees back, I wanted to be involved.”

As scientific coordinator for TACF’s Georgia chapter, Cipollini has established several orchards containing potentially blight-resistant American/Chinese chestnut hybrids on the Berry campus and has also supervised the planting of more than 6,500 hybrid trees statewide, including a small orchard at The Carter Center. He credits Berry’s expansive campus and enthusiastic student assistants with helping to propel these efforts forward and hopes that increased public awareness and involvement will allow even more to be accomplished in the future.

“Our goal is to plant a minimum of 12,000 trees statewide in the next 10 years,” Cipollini said of his work with the TACF Georgia chapter. “It’s going to take a lot of money and effort, but what we have is growing, and we’ve got to keep looking ahead to find ways to help it keep growing.”

By Maxine Donnelly, philanthropic communications senior writer

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