At the University of Colorado, students experience the challenges and opportunities of urban forestry up-close

I just returned from our first Tree Campus USA event this fall at the University of Colorado Boulder.

This was my second time attending a tree planting event on behalf of the Foundation – the first was at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers this past January.

It’s exciting to see how colleges and universities across the country are growing their community forests – and finding creative ways to improve the campus quality-of-life and student experience through tree planting and care.

At Florida Gulf Coast University, the 40 laurel oak trees were planted by students near the center of campus, adding much needed shade for students who break a sweat just getting to class in the humid air.

In Boulder, however, the planting we did was at the interface between the campus and the city, alongside a new bike path and a major highway just east of the Coors Event Center.

As senior grounds specialist Alan Nelson told us, the 35 gambel oak trees will do a lot for the edge of campus, creating a more inviting barrier. Planting in a confined space, on an incline, with speeding traffic on one side and chain-link fence separating us from construction on the other, this project was a terrific example of the realities of urban forestry.

Joining the participating students were a number of campus staff, as well as employees with the City of Boulder’s forestry and parks and recreation divisions, including City Forester Kathleen Alexander. Keith Wood, Community Forester with the Colorado Division of Forestry, also participated and made brief remarks.

We’re looking forward to the rest of our fall 2012 tree planting events - Los Angeles Valley College in Valley Glen, CA; Delaware State University in Dover, DE; LaSalle University in Philadelphia, PA; and Georgia State University in Atlanta, GA.

Speakers (left to right): Keith Wood, Colorado Division of Forestry; Sean Barry, Arbor Day Foundation; Dave Newport, Director, Environmental Center; Alan Nelson, Senior Grounds Specialist; (Not Pictured: Steve Thweatt, Executive Director, Facilities Management)

Expert on livable cities tells St. Louis trees should top the list

An international expert on livable cities told a St. Louis audience that more trees should top the list of ways to make the city even more vibrant and enjoyable to reside, visit and do business.

Opportunities for walking and biking, ample parks and community gathering spaces like coffee shops were other elements highlighted by Guillermo Penalosa, executive director of the nonprofit 8-80 Cities and a former parks and recreation commissioner for Bogota, Colombia.

According to David Hunn of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Penasola stressed that focusing on these elements rather than per-capita income will help cities thrive. When a city has the amenities people want, the economic piece fall into place.

“We live in an ever more globalized world,” Penalosa said. “Quality of life is the most important tool of economic development.”

If St. Louis wants to retain its best-and-brightest, he said, it has to focus on quality of life.

The role of urban forests in increasing quality of life is well appreciated by the more than 3,400 Tree City USA communities and the people who call them home. When we think of our favorite shopping districts or residential blocks, they are often the places full of healthy, well-maintained trees – even if we don’t realize it at first.

Penasola is right. If we want strong economies in our cities, we need to make them more livable and inviting. And if we want boost livability, it starts with trees.

The photo above, courtesy of Washington Magazine, shows the campus of Washington University in St. Louis, a two-year Tree Campus USA.

Ohio’s College of Wooster “sets itself apart” through Tree Campus USA participation

Applications for 2012 Tree Campus USA designation will not be due for another few months, but some campuses are continuing to tout their participation as a mark of commitment to stewardship and service throughout the year.

The College of Wooster, a private liberal arts college located in Wayne County, Ohio, is one institution that marshaled time and resources into making an already beautiful urban forest into something even greater. The campus will celebrate its Tree Campus USA status as part of Homecoming Weekend starting tomorrow.

Director of Grounds Beau Mastrine has contributed greatly to improving the campus forest through “unique vision” and a hard-working staff, according to the Akron Beacon Journal:

“It’s another way that the College has set itself apart,” said Mastrine. “There are currently just eight schools in Ohio who have earned this designation. It is something that all of us can be proud of.”

We look forward to the continued participation of enthusiastic campuses like the College of Wooster – and welcoming new colleges and universities – as we continue to grow the program during this and future years.

Foundation vice president weighs in on establishing successful corporate partnerships with non-profits

Dan Lambe, vice president of programs for the Arbor Day Foundation, offered his insight on forming successful corporate partnerships with non-profits in a recent article for the daily trade publication, Environmental Leader.

In this article, Lambe highlights several of the Arbor Day Foundation’s programs that are flourishing thanks to corporate partners and states that “corporations can further their environmental missions by forming strong and lasting conservation-oriented partnerships.”

He then outlines four key recommendations when forming conservation-oriented corporate partnerships.

Lambe’s first recommendation notes the critical importance of making a sustained commitment. He explains that, “companies assisting with replanting in national and state forests often pledge to support decades-long efforts as needs arise, rather than a one-time project that may result in less of a lasting impact”

Enterprise Rent-A-Car is a great example of a partner that has made a sustained commitment. Enterprise commemorated its 50th anniversary in 2007 by forming a long-term partnership with the Foundation to plant 50 million trees over the next 50 years, for a gift totaling more than $50 million dollars.So far, nearly seven million trees have been planted.

Lambe’s second recommendation for corporate partners is “to come to the table with ideas on a potential niche,” adding:

Many smaller partners, for instance, choose to support replanting in neighborhoods or state and national forests close to their headquarters. Many larger partners are interested in larger projects that command national attention.

Toyota, the sponsor of the Tree Campus USA program has a particular interest in engaging young people in sustainability, Lambe points out.

The essential support from Toyota for the Tree Campus USA program develops the connection between the college student niche and the environment through tree planting events and recognition on college and university campuses.

Corporate partners recognize the positive impact that playing an active role in conservation efforts has on their customer base. A corporation that does not make a strong effort to be socially responsible will ultimately have a harder time doing business in the future.

Lambe’s third recommendation puts forth the requirement that “effective partners bring local contacts and credibility to initiatives. For big events, employees and their networks can serve as a volunteer base,” says Lambe. “Most corporate partners also maintain strong relationships with the media and can open the door to new visibility.”

The fourth recommendation advocates that “tree planting is an ideal project because it is unifying,” with Lambe adding that “a tree-planting mission is able to rise above political conflicts and achieve significant outcomes for corporations and non profits alike.”

Read the entire article here.

Nearly 150 colleges and universities named a 2011 Tree Campus USA

We are excited to announce that 148 colleges and universities were named a 2011 Tree Campus USA by the Arbor Day Foundation.

That number is up about 30 percent compared to 2010, when 116 campuses received the designation. Tree Campus USA was launched in 2008 to honor and assist colleges and in promoting healthy trees and inspiring the next generation of environmental champions.

We’re grateful to have Toyota as a partner in this important effort.

The Foundation and Toyota are also sponsoring 13 tree planting events throughout the country this spring. Seven are supported by the AASHE, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, and the remaining six are supported by the historically black Greek organizations Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

The University of Alaska, Fairbanks; Los Angeles Valley College; Colorado State University; the University of South Florida; the University of Illinois at Chicago; the University of Kentucky; The Ohio State University; and The Catholic University of Ameirca are among the institutions named a Tree Campus USA for the first time.

The University of California, San Diego; Arizona State University; Northern Kentucky University; Michigan State University; the University of Texas; and the University of Nebraska – Lincoln are among the handful of campuses receiving the recognition for the fourth year in a row.

View the complete 2011 Tree Campus USA list here.

Today is also the last day to cast your vote for up to five of your favorite Tree Campus USA events at arbordaynow.org, with the winning campuses receiving a $1,000 prize from the Arbor Day Foundation. Currently, Virginia Tech and the University of Rochester are neck-and-neck with about 12,000 votes each, though up to five campuses can win.

Tomorrow is last day to vote for your favorite Tree Campus USA event

Tomorrow is the last chance to vote for up to five of your favorite Tree Campus USA events at arbordaynow.org, with the winning campuses receiving a $1,000 prize from the Arbor Day Foundation.

The $1,000 award must be used toward an Arbor Day celebration or service learning project involving college students and focusing on tree-planting or tree care. Winners will also receive up to 100 free t-shirts and signage for their event.

Ten campuses are in the running as finalists: American University, Arizona State University, Centre College, Eastern Kentucky University, Elmhurst College, the University of Maryland, the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, the University of Nevada Las Vegas, the University of Rochester and Virginia Tech.

Participants in the poll can click on an individual campus to learn more about its current conservation and tree planting activities.

Students, faculty and staff are definitely mobilized – as of this afternoon, nearly 40,000 votes had been cast. Yesterday, the Daily Nebraskan, the student newspaper at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, ran a story about the campus participation in the contest and encouraged people to vote.

Help these campuses recruit even more volunteers by voting today.

UPDATE: Virginia Tech’s student newspaper the Collegiate Times covered the contest this morning. 

 

It’s Arbor Day in Arkansas

Today is Arbor Day in Arkansas, which like a handful of other states, celebrates the holiday earlier in the spring than National Arbor Day to correspond with the best time of year for planting.

North Carolina and Arizona both marked the holiday last Friday.

The best way to celebrate Arbor Day is by planting trees, and many Arkansans are already doing just that. In late January, Entergy launched its second-year partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation to offer free trees to customers through the Energy-Saving Trees program.

Nearly 2,000 Entergy customers in Arkansas ordered 3,384 trees to help shade their homes and reduce energy bills.

Entergy gave out a total of 7,000 trees to customers in four states – Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas – meaning Arkansans claimed nearly half of the trees available. Many learned about the Energy-Saving Trees program through the community news site Arkansas Matters.

Arbor Day Foundation members and others are encouraged to contact their utility providers about participating in Energy-Saving Trees.

The State of Arkansas is currently home to 40 Tree City USA communities, accounting for nearly one million people. The largest Tree City USA in Arkansas is Little Rock (pictured above), population 183,333; the smallest is Beaver, population 80.

Florida Gulf Coast University students excited to plant 40 trees on campus quad

Last month, I had the opportunity to attend a tree planting event at Florida Gulf Coast University near Ft. Myers. The event was held on Florida Arbor Day – January 20 – and drew several dozen students, with 40 laurel oak trees planted.

It’s difficult to overstate how much the campus needed those trees. Library Lawn always had the potential to be a great place to study, socialize, or reflect, were it not for the beating sun.Students broke into a sweat just from crossing the quad.

The shade provided by the 40 new trees will help make Library Lawn a campus destination.

Florida Gulf Coast University, a Tree Campus USA for three years in a row, has been a terrific partner for the Arbor Day Foundation and a model for others. Vikki McConnell, assistant director of the campus physical plant staff, and Keishla Negron, a senior and student government sustainability director, have been especially vital.

“Tree Campus USA really helped lay the foundation for the nucleus of our campus,” Negron told me.

Tim Clark of the Campus Relations and Marketing Team put together a video that nicely captures the energy and excitement of last month’s event. Take a look below.