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Arbor Day Foundation names WKU a Tree Campus USA University

WKU has earned Tree Campus USA recognition for 2010 for its dedication to campus forestry management and environmental stewardship, the nonprofit Arbor Day Foundation announced. This is the first year WKU has been named a Tree Campus USA.

Tree Campus USA is a national program that honors colleges and universities and their leaders for promoting healthy management of their campus forests and for engaging the community in environmental stewardship. Tree Campus USA is a program of the Arbor Day Foundation and is supported by a grant from Toyota.

“By encouraging its students to plant trees and participate in service that will help the environment, Western Kentucky University is making a positive impact on its community that will last for decades,” said John Rosenow, chief executive and founder of the Arbor Day Foundation. “One goal of the Tree Campus USA program is to help create healthier communities for its citizens through the planting of trees, and the city of Bowling Green will certainly benefit from the university’s commitment to Tree Campus USA.”

WKU met the five core standards of tree care and community engagement in order to receive Tree Campus USA status. The standards are: establish a campus tree advisory committee; evidence of a campus tree-care plan; verification of dedicated annual expenditures on the campus tree-care plan; involvement in an Arbor Day observance; and the institution of a service-learning project aimed at engaging the student body.

“We certainly cherish our trees here at WKU,” Sustainability Coordinator Christian Ryan-Downing said. “Our campus forest is part of our identity, and our trees offer endless benefits such as providing habitat for wildlife, reducing heat island effect and cooling our buildings and landscape, and reducing our campus carbon footprint.  We are extremely proud to earn designation as a Tree Campus USA, and are planning a celebration for later this spring.”

WKU President Gary Ransdell said the hilltop campus is well known for its distinctive architecture and landscaping.

“WKU has cultivated this sense of place by enhancing greenspace within the heart of campus,” he said. “In the past three years, we have planted more than 500 trees, with 25 percent of them going in areas that were once covered in blacktop.”

WKU’s Tree Care Plan, created by Recycling Coordinator (and certified Arborist) Cristin Lanham, Landscape Architect Helen Siewers, Campus Grounds Manager Greg Fear, Professor of Ecology Albert Meier, and Campus Gardener Josh Twardowski, can be viewed on the sustainability website at: http://wku.edu/sustainability/index.php/main/page/campus.

Geography graduate student David Evans created the campus tree inventory under guidance of Planning, Design & Construction Project Manager Alfonso Casana, Siewers, Peter Barber of the Kentucky Division of Forestry, Bowling Green City Arborist Jared Weaver, and Steve Newton of WKU Planning Design and Construction. The campus Tree Advisory Committee members are President Ransdell, Vice President for Campus Services John Osborne, Siewers, Fear, Professor of Horticulture Martin Stone, Student Government Association President and GreenTopper Colton Jessie, and Weaver.

Osborne said he was especially pleased with the honor. “We value our trees at WKU because it is the right thing to do, and the Tree Campus USA designation is a wonderful recognition for the hard work of so many people across our campus,” he said.

The Arbor Day Foundation launched Tree Campus USA in the fall of 2008 by planting trees at nine college campuses throughout the United States. Twenty-nine schools were named a Tree Campus USA in 2008, and in three years the number of schools has more than tripled.

More information about the Tree Campus USA program is available at http://www.arborday.org/TreeCampusUSA.

About the Arbor Day Foundation: The Arbor Day Foundation is a nonprofit conservation organization of more than 1 million members, with a mission to inspire people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees. More information on the Foundation and its programs can be found at arborday.org. For more information, contact: Mark Derowitsch, 888-448-7337 or mderowitsch@arborday.org.

Contact: Christian Ryan-Downing, (270) 745-2508.

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