Planting Kent State’s Place: Tree Campus USA Recognition
The trees on Kent State University’s campus bring something new to marvel at each season. In the summer, trees provide welcoming shade for students to lounge, fall brings vivid leaves that crunch under students’ feet on the way to classes, and winter pines provide an idyllic picture of fluffy snow.
With nearly 4,000 trees on campus, Kent State has been awarded the Tree Campus USA recognition for the 12th consecutive year from the Arbor Day Foundation, a nonprofit conservation organization.
According to the foundation, the honor is designed to recognize colleges for “promoting healthy trees and engaging students and staff in the spirit of conservation.”
“The campus grounds and trees are absolutely the first thing that people notice when they come for a campus visit,” said Rebekkah Berryhill, grounds manager. “It’s proven that people learn better in an environment that has trees.”
To receive the honor of a Tree Campus USA recognition, Kent State had to meet a set of five criteria: maintaining a tree advisory committee, having a campus tree-care plan, creating dedicated annual expenditures for its campus tree program, an Arbor Day observance and a student service-learning project.
“We’re trying to show hard evidence that we are changing this environment,” Berryhill said regarding the ongoing Climate Grove service learning project. “We work directly with professors and students to come up with research projects and work hand-in-hand with them.”
In the United States, there are 385 campuses that take part in the Tree Campus USA recognition. Dan Lambe, president of the Arbor Day Foundation, said in a statement, “Tree Campuses and their students set examples for not only their student bodies but the surrounding communities showcasing how trees create a healthier environment.”
Being one of the 29 original campuses to receive the first Tree Campus USA designation, Kent State has retained its recognition ever since.
At the Arbor Day observation, Kent State will celebrate the recognition and plant a tree in honor of the university’s 13th president Todd Diacon.
Later this year, the university is planning to do an installation of edible trees and plans to partner with more departments.
“I really think that we’ve done some wonderful things in the past few years,” Berryhill said.