10-Year Tree Campus USA Spotlight: Kent State; Arbor Day Foundation; August 24, 2018
The Arbor Day Foundation By Amber Morrison | August 24, 2018
This year, Tree Campus USA celebrates its 10-year anniversary. To commemorate this milestone, we are highlighting the campuses that have been part of the program since the beginning. Guest post by David Taylor, Tree Advisory Board, Kent State University.
In fall 2018, Kent State University will have been my home for two full decades. From student to administrator, I’ve witnessed many changes. At times, change itself feels like the only constant. Trees, however, have never been a fleeting presence, their steady company both as background players and featured performers.
Trees are infused throughout the campus, and even the most limber-necked owl would struggle to find much of a treeless expanse. From the mature white and red oaks of the Front Campus amphitheater to the slender whips of the newly planted climate change research grove, the sheer numbers grant the active campus a rural and slower moving atmosphere. It is a balance of human and nature, with wildlife adding to the cozy feel. Kent State’s unofficial mascot, the black squirrel, flourishes with the tasty offerings found in abundance each fall.
Two students walk along the University Esplanade during Destination Kent State.
Inevitably, new structures are to be built when progress comes knocking. In the past, an architect might have claimed victory when the ribbon is cut, but from the tree’s perspective that progress can be fatal. Thankfully, that mindset has evolved over the years with cultural changes and education, and status as a Tree Campus USA site is evidence of the care and intentionality taken to beautify our campus.
Through a simplistic lens, a college campus is a generator of memories; conditions are in equilibrium with fertile minds and new experiences to seek out. Compared to a tree, a student’s time on campus is momentary (the adage “we grow where we’re planted” is still true). But even if a student never physically returns, in the fuzziness of memory the trees were present. They were (un)willing participants in the relaxing hammock on that breezy spring afternoon. They provided shade for the study session where two students fell in love. They dropped the talisman from the heavens at the foot of a student having a particularly emotional day as a reminder that life begins anew.
Morning light streams through the trees in this scene from the Northeast Corner of campus in front of the Administrative Services Building.
In those loops of memories, the trees are there, just off screen. Recognition as a Tree Campus USA for the 10th year is a way to boast publically of the magnificent work and care of trees at Kent State. It is a way to involve our students directly, putting the focus on arboriculture and the benefits trees provide. Tree-focused service learning activities are an annual staple, and engagement occurs across all sections of the campus.
Trees at Kent State have witnessed some incredible history in the annals of our country. Through preservation efforts, education, and yes – an investment, the campus will continue to observe Arbor Day, promoting the values of what it means to be selected as a Tree Campus USA site.
David Taylor, Ph.D.
Director, Housing Operations
Kent State University
Tree Advisory Board