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National Wildlife Federation guide recognizes WKU’s campus landscape

WKU is the only Kentucky school included in The Campus Wild: How College and University Green Landscapes Provide Havens for Wildlife and “Lands-on” Experiences for Students, a new publication from the National Wildlife Federation.

WKU's on-campus landscaping has earned national recognition in The Campus Wild: How College and University Green Landscapes Provide Havens for Wildlife and “Lands-on” Experiences for Students, a new publication from the National Wildlife Federation. (WKU photo by Bryan Lemon)

WKU’s on-campus landscaping has earned national recognition in The Campus Wild: How College and University Green Landscapes Provide Havens for Wildlife and “Lands-on” Experiences for Students, a new publication from the National Wildlife Federation. (WKU photo by Bryan Lemon)

The richly detailed guide, released Sept. 8, highlights how colleges and universities are playing a dynamic role protecting wildlife and restoring habitats in campus green spaces—including on-campus landscapes and natural areas, as well as distant campus-owned lands. It explores how such green places—dedicated to “The Wild”—also can benefit students, faculty, and staff with leadership opportunities, hands-on learning, energy savings, water conservation, and much more.

“We at WKU have always taken pride in the natural beauty and sustaining value of our campus,” President Gary Ransdell said. “There is much our students can learn from living in a habitat rich in nature’s goodness. This latest recognition is testament to previous generations of Hilltoppers who made nature a campus priority.”

The guide highlights 85 higher education institutions, representing all 50 states including the District of Columbia, and showcases a variety of habitat-related projects from diverse regions across the U.S. Efforts include a campus building that is home to nesting peregrine falcons, a controlled burn to restore prairie land, a no net loss of forest canopy policy that requires tree plantings when any tree is removed, forest surveys to measure carbon sequestration capacity, and campus gardens that not only provide food for the dining hall, but provide hands-on learning for students and homes for local wildlife.

WKU is recognized in the guide’s opening section — Campus Landscaping for “Wild”: “The 97-acre campus of Western Kentucky University uses a comprehensive strategy for sustaining its landscaping—especially for keeping it healthy. It features regional native plants and trees, urban wildlife habitat gardens, and water-efficient xeriscape plantings that include purple coneflower, rattlesnake master, and other Kentucky native wildflowers. A smart irrigation system monitors rainfall and evapotranspiration rates to eliminate unneeded watering. And an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program employs an environmentally balanced approach to managing pests, including planting diverse groupings of species to encourage predatory insects that feed on invasive bugs.”

The Campus Wild-CVR-6“We are delighted to be included in this wonderful publication by the National Wildlife Federation,” Sustainability Coordinator Christian Ryan said. “Our campus landscape is more than simply beautiful, it is designed and maintained in a way that is mindful of all the life that resides here. Environmental stewardship starts on our main campus and extends far beyond to our University properties that feature conservation programs for Kentucky flora and fauna, to education programs like those that promote water quality in karst regions around the world. Wildlife conservation is a core value at WKU.”

More than half of the 4,600 schools in the U.S. have participated in Campus Ecology projects that have created wildlife habitat, increased biodiversity and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Campuses are “perfect environments for nurturing wildlife while providing outdoor, living laboratories for students,” said Courtney Cochran, coauthor of the guide and NWF’s Campus Ecology senior coordinator.

NWF has worked with colleges and universities for more than 25 years, supporting students, faculty and staff in their campus sustainability efforts to ensure a healthy and prosperous environment for both humans and wildlife. For more, visit www.CampusEcology.org or http://blog.nwf.org/2015/09/the-campus-wild-a-new-guide-from-nwf/

Contact: Christian Ryan, (270) 745-2508

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