Photographer: Ben Siegel/Ohio UniversityStudents spot the next tree on their map during a scavenger hunt held at The Ridges in October. The hunt was a new service learning event pairing OHIO students with preschoolers from the Child Development Center.
Ohio University has again been honored with Tree Campus USA recognition by the Arbor Day Foundation for its commitment to tree management.
The designation is awarded to two- and four-year accredited colleges and universities that meet or exceed the five standards established by the Arbor Day Foundation, including tree care and stewardship, education and community engagement.
“Ohio University has one of the most beautiful campuses in America, and our trees are one of the big reasons why,” Ohio University President M. Duane Nellis said. “From the mighty oaks and sycamores of College Green to the Japanese cherry trees along the Hocking River, we’re proud to have a diverse array of trees that complement the broad diversity of our students who come to Athens to gain a transformative education.”
The Athens Campus has thousands of trees across its landscape comprised of many different species. The trees are managed by the University’s Facilities department, with oversight and advice from the OHIO University Tree Advisory Committee. In order to achieve the Tree Campus USA designation, the University met five standards:
- Campus Tree Advisory Committee – A Campus Tree Advisory Committee comprised of members representing the diverse audience of those with a stake in campus trees is established and meets regularly.
- Campus Tree Care Plan – The Tree Care Plan should be goal oriented and provide the opportunity to set good policy and clear guidance for planting, maintaining, and removing trees. It also provides education to the campus community, citizens, contractors, and consultants about the importance of the campus forest and the protection and maintenance of trees as part of the growth and land development process.
- Campus Tree Program with Dedicated Annual Expenditures – A college campus, to be designated a Tree Campus USA, must allocate finances for its annual campus tree program.
- Arbor Day Observance – An Arbor Day observance provides a golden opportunity to educate the campus community on the benefits of the trees on their campus property and in the community.
- Service Learning Project – The Service Learning Project should provide an opportunity to engage the student population with projects related to trees and can be part of a campus or community initiative.
One exciting new service learning event hosted this past October was a tree scavenger hunt. Amongst the colorful fall leaves, college students were paired with preschoolers from the Child Development Center, following clues on a map to find and identify trees at the Ridges.
When asking about favorite trees, one 5-year-old excitedly yelled, “Black Walnut!” referring to the last of seven trees discovered on the hunt. “It was wonderful to see the college students learning species identification alongside the preschoolers,” said Susan Calhoun, OHIO’s landscape coordinator. “It is important to connect the next generation to their environment, and what better way to do that than utilizing our best asset at Ohio University – our trees.”
The Tree Campus USA Program helps colleges and universities around the country establish and sustain healthy community forests. Tree Campus USA is facilitated by the Arbor Day Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit conservation and education organization that seeks to inspire people to plant, nurture and celebrate trees. For more information, visit www.arborday.org.