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Arbor Day Foundation honors Ohio University with 2020 Tree Campus Higher Education recognition

Ohio University was recently honored by the Arbor Day Foundation for the fifth consecutive year with the 2020 Tree Campus Higher Education recognition for the University’s commitment to effective urban forest management.

"Tree Campuses and their students set examples for not only their student bodies but the surrounding communities showcasing how trees create a healthier environment,” said Dan Lambe, president of the Arbor Day Foundation. “Because of Ohio University’s participation, air will be purer, water cleaner and students and faculty will be surrounded by the shade and beauty trees provide.”

Last year Ohio University made alterations to its traditional methods of achieving this award due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The Ohio University Tree Advisory Committee (OUTAC) worked to find unconventional ways to meet the criteria to receive the Arbor Day Foundation’s recognition while maintaining social distancing guidelines.

“OUTAC met outdoors for our meetings, which are required by the program. We also had to adapt some of our annual in-person educational events, such as the Tree Scavenger Hunt with Child Development Center children,” said Samuel Crowl from OHIO Office of Sustainability. “Instead of holding that event we provided supplies, videos and instruction to the children to assist in the acorn stratification process.”

The Tree Campus Higher Education program – formerly known as Tree Campus USA – honors colleges and universities for effective campus forest management and for engaging staff and students in conservation goals. Ohio University achieved the title by meeting Tree Campus Higher Education’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. Currently there are 403 campuses across the United States with this recognition.

“This was a year like no other. What a team effort put forth by the Ohio University Tree Advisory Committee, the Office of Sustainability, community members, Grounds Department crews and particularly our Student Landscape crew members who went above and beyond in assisting with program requirements as well as new tree-related initiatives while balancing their class loads throughout the 2020 pandemic scene,” said Susan Calhoun, landscape coordinator at OHIO. “I also want to give a shout out to the many Design and Construction project managers as well as Facilities Managers that value our beautiful trees through their diligence in upholding tree protection standards while performing operations."

The Arbor Day Foundation has helped campuses throughout the country plant thousands of trees, and Tree Campus Higher Education colleges and universities invested more than $51 million in campus forest management last year. This work directly supports the Arbor Day Foundation’s Time for Trees initiative — an unprecedented effort to plant 100 million trees in forests and communities and inspire 5 million tree planters by 2022. Last year, Tree Campus Higher Education schools collectively planted 39,178 trees and engaged 81,535 tree planters — helping to work toward these critical goals.

“Among many attributes, Ohio University is known for its beautiful Athens campus. I would argue that the Athens campus is one of the most beautiful college campuses in the United States, with our trees and local forests playing a central role,” Crowl said. “The Tree Campus initiative provides notoriety that helps to ensure that resources are available to maintain and increase our tree canopy, and also ensures that work is being planned and executed to support our trees and to keep our campus beautiful and sustainable for students and all members of our community.”

March 2, 2021
Jessica Steele