'Perseverance Oaks' Nurtures Future Opportunities for Communities, Children

John Hairston, April 13, 2016

Growth—growing live oaks, growing communities, and growing kids’ financial futures—was the word recently as Hancock Bank and Whitney Bank launched “Perseverance Oaks” on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.



This multi-year, multi-faceted partnership will help replenish live oak populations, primarily with offspring of genetically superior landmark live oaks, in Gulf Coast communities hit by major storms.

The 500-year-old Friendship Oak, majestic centerpiece of the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Park Campus in Long Beach, produced the first Perseverance Oaks to go in the ground in two sprawling South Mississippi green spaces, the Long Beach Town Green and Gulfport’s waterfront Jones Park.

Planting for the Future 

Long Beach





Class in the Grass

An outdoor financial education series is also a component of Perseverance Oaks designed to help elementary school students learn how to save for and grow future financial security and success.



About Perseverance Oaks

The Perseverance Oaks idea took root shortly after 2005’s catastrophic storm season. As bank leaders walked the heavily damaged Southern Miss Gulf Park campus and the storm-scarred expanse of Jones Park just south of corporate headquarters, they saw first-hand the beating live oaks endured in Hurricane Katrina.

Many live oaks fell to Katrina’s fury. Other live oaks, including the Friendship Oak, made it through the storm, battered but still strong, much like the Gulf Coast’s people. Despite the trauma of being surrounded by seawater and thrashed by brutal winds, those oaks managed to produce acorns, small but meaningful signs of new hope for re-growing the region. It was then that the bank saw an opportunity—and a right-thing-to-do obligation—to repopulate the area’s live oaks.

Not all acorns germinate; but after several years, with support from Southern Miss Gulf Park, a small test group of Friendship Oak acorns sprouted. The bank transferred the seedlings to a plant nursery, then to the MSU Extension Center for further nurturing and preparation for planting in spring 2016.


Preserving Legacies

The bank will place plaques distinguishing trees as Perseverance Oaks under each planted sapling.


As the project expands, we plan to work with schools and organizations across our five-state footprint for acorn gatherings, tree plantings, and other Perseverance Oaks activities to help preserve, green, and grow local landscapes.


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