By LilyAnne Rodriguez
The Arbor Day Foundation, which was founded in 1972, is a nonprofit organization dedicated primarily to planting trees. According to the foundation, the Tree Campus USA program “helps colleges and universities around the country establish and sustain healthy community forests.”
Assistant Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies Brad Oberle spearheaded the effort to qualify and apply for the designation.
“In qualifying for the Tree Campus USA Program,” explained Oberle, “it means proving to the Arbor Day Foundation that the campus has a plan for how to care for trees, has budget to support those trees, is engaging students in serving the community through tree related efforts, and celebrating Arbor Day.”
Another qualification to be considered as a Tree Campus USA college is creating a Campus Tree Advisory Committee. At New College, the committee is comprised of members who representing the diverse stakeholders on campus. Robert Audet; Deric Harvey; and Marguerite Beckford, Ed.D.; serve on the committee alongside Oberle
“It was a great team to have together because everybody provided some unique insights,” said Oberle.
The process to qualify began in 2018 when New College student Malcolm Wells worked on earning the recognition for the college as part of his thesis projects, for which he also planned an Arbor Day celebration on campus. Oberle and students in his Forest Ecology class then compared and critiqued previously published tree care plans and developed one better suited for New College.
“The things we have to do to apply [for the Tree Campus USA program] benefit our campus,” said Oberle. “By forming this committee that has different constituencies, all of whom care about trees and who can connect to the rest of the community, we can hear what we need to do to support that resource.”
The Campus Tree Advisory Committee is hosting an on-campus Arbor Day celebration April 26, along with students and the Council of Green Affairs. This event will showcase New College’s commitment to tree preservation on campus, as well as engage students and the Sarasota community in sustainable development.
— LilyAnne Rodriguez is an intern in the Office of Communications and Marketing