Kansas Wesleyan University was honored this week with the 2018 Tree Campus USA® recognition by the Arbor Day Foundation for its commitment to effective urban forest management.
“Tree Campuses and their students set examples not only for 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 your school’s participation, air will be purer, water cleaner and your students and faculty will be surrounded by the shade and beauty the trees provide,” he said.
KWU becomes the seventh campus in Kansas to earn the designation, and the second private college behind Baker University in Topeka.
The Tree Campus USA program honors colleges and universities for effective campus forest management and for engaging staff and students in conservation goals.
Kansas Wesleyan University 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.
There are 364 campuses across the United States with this recognition.
Dr. Matt Thompson, president and CEO at Kansas Wesleyan, said he was proud of the team that pursued the special honor.
“This group of faculty, staff, students and members of the community recognized how beautiful our campus has become, and it has special meaning that they took the time, and provided the effort, to see to it that the Arbor Day Foundation realized that beauty,” Thompson said. “Further, this designation recognizes our commitment to our role in stewarding the earth. We are grateful for the environment in which we live and work, and that we enhance the Salina community through our park-like setting.”
Dr. Stephanie Welter, chair of the KWU Department of Biology, said the history of trees on campus makes it important to understand what species are grown, and to use that as a learning experience for students.
“From a safety and health point of view, it also is important to ensure that the trees are inspected to determine condition, age, and making sure they are as healthy as possible,” she said. “In the future, we will be working on developing identification labels for our campus trees, as well as continuing to add to the trees on campus over the next several years.”
Kansas State University Horticulturist Jason L. Graves also worked with the KWU committee to help meet the foundation’s criteria.
“This designation is exciting for KWU and the Salina community because it demonstrates a growing sense of awareness of the critical role that nature, especially trees, play in the health and vitality of our students and citizens and our ecosystem as a whole,” Graves said.
He added that the Tree Campus USA designation will aid in building awareness on campus and in the community of the irreplaceable value of trees in our environment.
“Trees are so critical for providing habitat for wildlife, stabilizing the soil, generating oxygen while removing carbon dioxide, providing shade and for their beauty. We need trees!”
The committee that worked on the project included former Plant Operations Director Dale White and current Director John Swaggerty, former facilities employee Steve Blue, Welter, biology students Katie Hernandez and Tennsea Liekhus, accounting student James Fitzgerald, retired professor Ted Zergera and Graves.
Other Kansas schools to be previously honored are Emporia State, Fort Hays State, Kansas State, the University of Kansas and the University of Kansas Medical Center.
The Arbor Day Foundation has helped campuses throughout the country plant thousands of trees, and Tree Campus USA colleges and universities invested more than $51 million in campus forest management last year. More information about the program is available at arborday.org/TreeCampusUSA.
(photo courtesy Kansas Wesleyan University)