The University of Nevada, Reno campus has earned the 2020 Tree Campus Higher Education recognition, awarded last semester. Tree Campus Higher Education is an Arbor Day Foundation program that honors universities for their faculty and student involvement in promoting healthy trees and conservation engagement on campus.
Previously known as Tree Campus USA, the Arbor Day Foundation chose to change the name to Tree Campus Higher Education in 2020 to distinguish the different programs and accomplishments, which also include Tree Campus K-12 and Tree Campus Healthcare.
To be recognized as a Tree Campus, universities need to meet five core standards for sustainable campus forestry. These include the establishment of a tree advisory committee, evidence of a campus tree care plan, dedicated annual expenditures for the campus tree program, the sponsorship of student service-learning projects, and an Arbor Day observance, which was optional in 2020 due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Mikeal Carver, the interim assistant director for Grounds and Building Services, notes how important it is to those involved on campus.
“We are very proud of our designation as Tree Campus Higher Education,” Carver said. “It motivates the crew, inspires the students, and the entire campus community benefits and respects our trees.”
The University was classified as a state arboretum by the 1985 Nevada Legislature, with over 60 genera and 200 species of trees on campus. The University Grounds Department is tasked with identifying areas to plant trees, tree inventory updates, managing tree care budget and coordinating efforts to purchase, plant and care for new trees. With help from the Arboretum board, they define tree protection and preservation policies and procedures. They also establish tree inventories, dedicated annual expenditures to plant, care for and remove trees and plan Arbor Day observance and volunteer events on campus.
In a normal year, students would be out planting trees on campus, the community would have the opportunity to get involved, and tree tours and plaque dedications would have been conducted. Teaching Assistant Jason Ludden said while these things were not able to happen due to the pandemic, he is still impressed with the involvement this year.
“Last year was kind of a struggle because we didn’t have as many students on campus,” Ludden said. “Although it was a difficult year, people really rallied together. ASUN was super supportive, and it was great to have the student leadership come up with inventive and cool ways to get students involved in helping the trees around campus.”
Ludden views the Tree Campus Higher Education recognition as a chance to reflect on everything they have done that year and highlight the hard work that goes into maintaining the grounds and species on campus. He encourages students to check out areas on campus they have never visited before and explore the different gardens across the University grounds.
“I think the recognition that we get by being a Tree Campus really allows us to engage with the community,” Ludden said. “It really highlights the fact that we are a community, and the University faculty and staff are working together to keep this campus beautiful, alongside the amazing work that the grounds crew and the arboretum board is doing.”
If you are looking for a safe and healthy way to celebrate Earth Day on April 22, check out the collection of video tree tours on the University’s arboretum website, or enjoy the springtime sun on campus by taking a self-walking tour of the arboretum areas of interest anytime. Please be mindful when you are on campus or visit the University's beautiful grounds, facial coverings must be worn at all times, inside and outside, and social distancing must be practiced.