Tree Campus USA recognizes St. Edward’s for positive impact

Amy Lockwood

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St. Edward’s University announced it is officially recognized as a Tree Campus USA college on Feb. 1.

Tree Campus USA is among the various environmental conservation and education programs advocated by the Arbor Day Foundation. Since 1972, the nonprofit Arbor Day Foundation has worked to “inspire people to plant, nurture and celebrate trees” in hopes of encouraging a positive environmental impact.

The organization’s goal is to reduce the harmful effects of carbon dioxide on the environment by reducing the amount of generated energy; their mission is sought through tree conservation. Tree Campus USA ties colleges and universities to the cause by providing a coalition of green institutions.

With the organization’s assistance, college and university campuses learn how to maintain trees in order to establish and sustain healthy community forests. By committing to the trees, college campuses join the organization’s pursuance of reducing energy production.

Tree Campus USA is a nationally recognized program aimed to promote greener thinking on college and university campuses. To qualify, colleges and universities must meet the Arbor Day Foundation’s five core standards of tree care and community engagement. The standards include: (1) establish a campus tree advisory committee, (2) produce a campus tree care plan, (3) dedicate annual expenditure to campus tree care, (4) have a yearly Arbor Day observance and (5) have a service learning project aimed at engaging the student body.

Recognition as a Tree Campus USA college adds St. Edward’s to the long list of universities belonging to the program. From Stanford University, Duke University, Penn State University and more, inclusion in Tree Campus USA fosters a community of institutions united to improve the environment. University membership displays the campuses pledge to the environment through the dedication of tree preservation.

Kelly McNab, St. Edward’s sustainability graduate assistant, said, “I think the best part of being a Tree Campus USA is that it demonstrates how dedicated our university is to planting, protecting and maintaining our campus trees, as well as our commitment to bettering our environment.”

McNab was part of the team that applied and established St. Edward’s Tree Advisory Committee.

“[The committee] consists of students, faculty, Facilitates staff and community arborists,” McNab said. “The committee meets once a semester to discuss the Campus Tree Care Plan, Arbor Day Events and other tree-related activities.

The student response to St. Edward’s Tree Campus USA membership has been positive.

“Promoting a green campus should be something every institution strives for,” senior Lesly Carbajal said. “Every contribution can make a difference and I’m proud to be a student of a university affiliated with environmental improvement.”

The coalition of colleges and universities united by Tree Campus USA “not only benefits the environment but instills pride in the students, faculty and community,” according to the Arbor Day Foundation.

Now that St. Edward’s has joined Tree Campus USA, the Tree Advisory Committee will work to continue preserving trees on campus and maintaining the university’s position in the organization. St. Edward’s is set to receive their Tree Campus USA recognition materials during Earth Week in April.

“Next, we will have an Arbor Day event during Earth Week to receive our recognition materials and have some sort of tree planting event. Every year we have to reapply to be a Tree Campus USA and update our Campus Tree Care Plan,” McNab said.