Troy University biology professor and director of the arboretum has an “out of this world” project that he hopes will inspire students to pursue STEM careers.

NASA selected Troy University as the recipient of a “Moon Tree” seedling. The loblolly pine seedling flew around the moon on the 2022 Artemis I mission.

Dr. Alvin Diamond hopes to expose various age groups to the project.

“For the younger kids, to actually have something that’s been to outer space that they can see and touch will hopefully inspire them to look into STEM careers,” Diamond said. With the older students, we can look at how space travel affects the human body and other living things and what we can do to protect people in space. Hopefully, having something hands-on will inspire the students more than just reading from a book.”

NASA chose the school because it can care for and promote the tree.

“A new era of moon trees will one day stand tall in communities across America,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson in a NASA-issued press release. “NASA is bringing the spirit of exploration back down to Earth because space belongs to everyone. The Artemis Generation will carry forth these seedlings that will be fertile ground for creativity, inspiration and discovery for years to come.”

Troy’s seed will be planed in the Meadowloop Trail at the arboretum.

“We wanted to pick a place where there would be plenty of room for it to grow, and we thought the Meadowloop Trail would be best because it’s open and cleared out and nothing else would be competing with it,” Diamond said. “And it’ll be a reason for visitors to go out on the trails to come see the tree.”

The planting date has not been determined.

Nearly 50 seeds were distributed to other universities across the United States.

To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email

Don’t miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning or become a member to gain access to exclusive content and 1819 News merch.