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It takes only an acorn to grow grand new oaks along Coast

Students in Hancock County learn about the Centennial Oak before gathering acorns from the tree.
Students in Hancock County learn about the Centennial Oak before gathering acorns from the tree. Courtesy

Hancock Bank is hoping to prove the old phrase “Mighty oaks from little acorns grow” with a plan to plant new oak trees across the Coast.

The Perseverance Oaks is a program in which acorns from Live oaks are taken, cultivated into seedlings and planted in new areas. Hancock Bank Vice President Paul Maxwell said the program has roots going back to the days after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

“Our CEO at the time was walking around the Friendship Oak at Gulf Park in Long Beach after Katrina, and he noticed a lot of acorns on the ground,” Maxwell said. “He had the idea of taking the acorns from the iconic oak and planting new oaks around the Coast.”

On Tuesday, the Centennial Oak in the Historic Train Depot area of Bay St. Louis was officially made a part of the Perseverance Oaks program.

“The Centennial Oak was planted in 1999 to recognize the 100th birthday of Hancock Bank,” Maxwell said. “So some acorns were taken from Bay St. Louis, and we hope to plant them one day.”

The acorns will be given to Mississippi State University, which is one of the partners in the project, where they will be studied and cultivated in hopes of reaching sapling status.

Maxwell said another portion of the oaks restoration project begins on Friday in Gulfport.

“On Friday, we are having one of our ‘Class in the Grass’ programs at Anniston Elementary School,” he said. “We have an old oak behind the bank on Cowan Road and the students are going to come over and sit under it for the program — it’s on the old Gulf Coast College site.”

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