LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 18, 2015) — In recognition of its efforts to provide meaningful greenspace, the University of Kentucky was honored as a 2014 Tree Campus USA by the Arbor Day Foundation for its commitment to effective urban forest management. The 2014 recognition was awarded in the spring of 2015.
Tree Campus USA is a national program created in 2008 by the Arbor Day Foundation and sponsored by Toyota to honor colleges and universities for effective campus forest management and for engaging staff and students in conservation goals. UK achieved the title by meeting Tree Campus USA's five standards, which include maintaining a tree advisory committee, a campus tree-care plan, dedicated annual expenditures for its campus tree program, an Arbor Day observance and student service-learning project. Tree Campus USA is sponsored by Toyota.
"Toyota is so proud to support a program that we believe has a great impact on both reducing the environmental footprint of a college campus and inspiring college students to become conservation leaders," said Latrondra Newton, chief corporate social responsibility officer for Toyota Motor North America, Inc.
The Arbor Day Foundation and Toyota have helped campuses throughout the country plant thousands of trees, and Tree Campus USA colleges and universities invested more than $29 million in campus forest management last year.
“It’s an honor to receive this recognition for the fourth year in a row,” said Jerry Hart, superintendent of grounds in the division of Facilities Management at UK. “It really takes a collaborative effort from students, faculty, facility operations and the community to meet and sustain the standards of Tree Campus USA. Our team works daily by planting and nurturing to keep our university green.”
In order to attain such a title, a collaborative effort between UK grounds people, faculty and students must be made. Grounds people work directly with the trees by watering, pruning, mulching and planting; while faculty and students from departments such as UK forestry dedicate time and effort to learn about and promote the living tree environment on UK’s campus.
"Students are eager to volunteer in their communities and become better stewards of the environment," said Matt Harris, chief executive of the Arbor Day Foundation. "Participating in Tree Campus USA sets a fine example for other colleges and universities, while helping to create a healthier planet for us all."
As an example of student engagement, on April 12, several UK students from horticulture, forestry, and plant and soil science teamed up with the Bluegrass Youth Sustainability Council and staff at the UK-Lexington Fayette Urban County Government Arboretum to remove invasive species from the arboretum woods.
“We removed amur honeysuckle and purple wintercreeper, and did so avoiding the small patches of poison ivy which we identified beforehand,” said UK forestry graduate student Nic Williamson. “Plans are in the works for another service project in September which may include mulching and planting trees on campus.”
Williamson said the campus community can get involved in UK’s urban forest initiative through the Adopt-A-Tree program.
“Adopt-A-Tree is a way to raise interest and awareness of the benefits of trees. It is a simple and free exercise where a person or group identifies, measures, and calculates the ecosystem benefits of their favorite trees,” said Williamson.
Adopt-A-Tree is one just one initiative within UK’s Tree Care Plan.
“Tree Campus USA is a vehicle which only moves forward with cooperation and partnerships between many people who work, live and play under our campus tree canopy throughout the year,” Williamson said.
Trees provide countless benefits to the campus. They make the UK community more beautiful and healthy in cleaning our air, cooling our campus, providing wildlife habitat and capturing and filtering stormwater runoff. Trees and greenspace are mentally restorative and important to the university.
Williamson, as well as the countless others who put forth efforts toward the enhancement of plant life at UK, will continue to strive toward the goal of being named Tree Campus USA for a fifth consecutive year.
More information about the program is available at arborday.org/TreeCampusUSA.