Exterior of Nancy Nicholas Hall in the evening, with lamps and windows glowing.
News & Events

The Return of Bur Oak!


A Planting Ceremony with Preschool Alums and Campus Officials
Kris Krystofiak and CDL Alums
“Bur Oak was a big part of our classroom,” states Kris Krystofiak, a CDL senior instructional specialist and 4K teacher, pictured with four CDL student alums.

On January 14, 2015, the oldest tree on campus, President’s Oak, was officially taken down. UW Child Development Lab (CDL) preschoolers had become quite attached to the 300-year-old tree they called “bur oak” and gave it an emotional and meaningful goodbye that captured attention on campus and from local media.

Horticulturalist Michael Yanny and the CDL alumni
A photo of horticulturalist Michael Yanny and the CDL alumni who were there when the 300-year-old tree came down. As part of the ceremony, Yanny read an original poem honoring the planter of the first Bur Oak. “Probably a squirrel. I appreciate them. They do what I do.”

But, back 2013, horticulturalist and UW-Madison alum Michael Yanny was touring campus and had noticed that the President’s Oak “wasn’t looking good.” He asked permission to take some clippings. Yanny had been grafting oaks for 35 years and had just recently started to have good results.

A few years later, he got a call from Daniel Einstein, UW–Madison historic and cultural resources manager, asking about his grafting project. It had taken five years, but Yanny had gotten a few to grow.

Aaron Bird Bear
Aaron Bird Bear, an assistant dean and director with the School of Education, provides a native people’s traditional tobacco offering.

On October 10, the hardiest tree graft—called a scion—was planted near the original bur oak in a rainy ceremony attended by Chancellor Blank, Yanny, four CDL alumni, and others.  Blank and Einstein spoke about the history of the original tree and the future of the new President’s Oak. The children added their wishes written on paper to the soil and sang “Happy Birthday.” Then, all in attendance were able to dig in and help plant the oldest and newest tree on campus.

Read the UW News story.

Trunk of the original Bur Oak
With a large portion of the trunk saved for the playground, children in the CDL are able to enjoy the original Bur Oak today.











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