University Earns Tree Campus USA Status

Tree Campus logo

The thousands of trees of all shapes, sizes and species on Eastern Kentucky University’s 912-acre Richmond campus offer more than shade and aesthetic appeal.

They also serve as a natural outdoor laboratory for many academic programs.

And now EKU has earned recognition as a 2011 Tree Campus USA. The national program, launched in 2008 by the Arbor Day Foundation and Toyota Motor North America Inc., honors colleges and universities and their leaders for promoting healthy trees and engaging students and staff in the spirit of conservation.

The honor validates the university’s historic commitment to the care of its trees, said David Williams, associate director of facilities services for campus and grounds. “It’s recognition for what we have valued and done for years.”

To obtain the distinction, EKU met the five core standards for sustainable campus forestry required by Tree Campus USA: establishment of a tree advisory committee, evidence of a campus tree-care plan, dedicated annual expenditures for its campus tree program, an Arbor Day observance, and the sponsorship of student service-learning projects.

“Your entire campus community should be proud of this sustained commitment to environmental stewardship,” said Mary Widhelm, program manager for the Arbor Day Foundation. “Your diligence in improving the environment and quality of life at Eastern Kentucky University contributes to a healthier, more sustainable world for us all.”

Williams said the Tree Campus USA designation stems from the efforts of many on campus, including Randy Wilson, program coordinator for Campus and Grounds; David Gore, sustainability coordinator; and members of the university’s Tree Advisory Committee, which includes faculty, staff and students as well as a community member.

Williams said the input of the Tree Advisory Committee is important. “Instead of making decisions in a vacuum, it’s helpful to have the involvement of the campus and community.”

The Arbor Day Foundation, which launched Tree Campus USA in the fall of 2008 by planting trees at nine college campuses throughout the United States, is a nonprofit conservation organization of nearly 1 million members, with a mission to inspire people to plant, nurture and celebrate trees. More information on the foundation and its programs can be found at http://www.arborday.org.

Published on February 22, 2012