For the second consecutive year, the Arbor Day Foundation has recognized APSU as a Tree Campus USA, a distinction awarded to universities promoting healthy trees and involving students and staff in conservation efforts.
To earn recognition, universities must meet five standards: establishment of a tree advisory committee, a tree-care plan, an annual tree program budget, Arbor Day observance and sponsorship of service-learning projects.
“Our second recognition shows APSU’s continued commitment to the environmental health and beauty of our campus,” Assistant Director of Landscape and Grounds Wes Powell said. “It also serves as a platform to educate the campus community on the importance of trees in an urban setting.”
The university regularly offers service-learning projects where students can plant trees around campus, including the annual Plant the Campus Red event.
“The other service-learning event [for 2016] was 50K Tree Day,” Powell said. “This event was part of the Tennessee Environmental Council’s Tennessee Tree Program, where the goal is to plant and care for 1 million native trees in Tennessee over the next few years.”
Alexandra Wills, director of the Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement, said the events are meant to celebrate campus growth and promote volunteering.
“Students may plant a tree then come back 20 years later as their child starts their freshman year here, and see the tree has grown and matured into a campus marker,” Wills said.
Volunteers said they appreciated the community aspect of the event.
“It was both an honor and a privilege to help,” senior psychology major Duane Kessler said. “More than anything, it made me proud to see so many other people out there planting trees.”
The atmosphere also built anticipation for this year’s project.
“I felt like it was a team effort.” senior business management major Timothy Himburg said. “I enjoyed contributing and hope to do it again this year.”
Powell said this year’s event is called 100K Tree Day and will be held Saturday, Feb. 25, as one of the university’s continued tree care efforts through 2017.
Some other tree care goals include planting at least 75 trees each year, creating a tree inventory and increasing canopy coverage, Powell said.
Professor of Biology Wilodean Burton will also lead a volunteer project where ecology students will tag 30 trees on Browning’s lawn for Arbor Day. Powell said each tag will place an economic value on the tree based on various factors like pollution control.
APSU will be formally recognized as a 2016 Tree Campus USA during Clarksville’s Arbor Day observance on April 7, at Burt Elementary School.