Steve Gutzwiller is a retired Biology teacher from Milan High School, even though he is a Batesville resident.
”About 15 years ago, I heard the story which goes back 100 years, about a German farmer who planted Catalpa trees near the ballpark at Huntersville Road in Batesville. He did it so that decades later, parents are able to enjoy watching ball games under the shade trees. That story stuck in my mind. When my little boy who went to Milan elementary school played ball at the park, and I went to watch him play, there wasn’t a single tree on the property. You just sat there and get baked. So I remembered the story of that farmer and decided to plant trees at the Milan ball park.”
To cut the story short, on March 16, 2015, with the help of his students, former students and friends, namely Tim Schwipps and Jeff Meinders, they coordinated funds and man power to realize Steve’s tree planting dream. Unfortunately, Steve suffered a stroke in the classroom on that same day and wasn’t present to witness the event.
”I didn’t lift a finger. I didn’t plant any of those trees. I just had everything set up. So when I got out of surgery a couple of days later, I asked, ‘What about my trees?’ and Principal Ryan Langferman told me, ‘Gutz, it’s all done!’ ”
On October 2015, Steve won the Indiana Urban Forest Council Outstanding Individual of the Year Award, but he was not able to receive the award in person as he was still recovering from the stroke.