NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Rain showers, wind and cooler temperatures could not keep students from Tennessee State University along with community volunteers from planting more than 30 trees around campus Sunday afternoon as part of a celebration recognizing the University as a leader in conservation and sustainability.
Prior to planting Crepe Myrtles, Red Maple and Oak trees around campus, TSU received the Tree Campus USA designation from the Arbor Day Foundation, a national program created in 2008 to honor colleges and universities for effective forest management and engaging staff and students in conservation goals.
TSU, along with Trevecca Nazarene University, were recognized as the first universities to receive the special designation in 2013, bringing the total to 194 institutions taking part in the national program.
“How fitting that today we recognize these two universities in Nashville, who, for the past 18 years, has received its own designation as a Tree City USA by the foundation,” said Mary Sweeny, program manager for the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree Campus USA. “College campuses have some of the largest urban forests in the country, and we need to protect and become good stewards of these natural woodlands.”
TSU achieved the designation by meeting Tree Campus USA’s five standards, which include creating a tree advisory committee, a campus tree-care plan, dedicated annual expenditures toward trees, an Arbor Day observance, and student service-learning projects.
Dr. Chandra Reddy, Dean of the College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Sciences, called the designation “great news” for the campus since it is the result of a lot of planning and hard work by faculty, staff and students. But, he said, future leaders, such as the students in attendance at the ceremony, have the responsibility to maintain the health and vitality of not only the campus urban forest, but also woodlands across the country.
“We have denuded forests in the name of progress, along with creating large urban areas void of trees and natural plants,” added Reddy. “We are honored to be part of the program and hope to educate our students on the importance of being good stewards of the environment. We thank the Arbor Day Foundation for making this a priority and to help educate the youth of our nation.”
Getting the campus the designation was the brainchild of Dr. De’Etra Young, extension assistant professor of Urban Forestry. During an interview for a position with the University, she stated it was a goal of hers to get the Tree Campus USA designation for TSU, along with her passion for maintaining the urban forest on the campus. That was in February, and in eight short months, the University fast-tracked its application and became the newest member of the program.
“I didn’t expect this to happen so quickly,” said a smiling Young. “We are going to use this recognition to show that the University is devoted to the environment and knows the importance of sustainability.
The next step, according to Young, is to have the campus designated as a Level 1 Arboretum. To achieve that designation requires that at least 30 varieties of trees be labeled and available for a self-guided tour.
“I think as we move forward and the Tree Campus USA award becomes more recognizable nationally, it will demonstrate that TSU has a long commitment to maintaining our urban forest and the infrastructure of the land,” said Young. “Our plan emphasizes the importance of trees for their aesthetic and social value, as well as for their environmental impact to the campus ecosystem.”
Now in its fifth year, Tree Campus USA recognizes the best practices in campus forestry throughout the United States. The goal of the program is to honor college campuses and leaders of their surrounding communities for promoting healthy urban forest management and engaging the campus community in environmental stewardship.
The Arbor Day Foundation and Toyota have helped campuses throughout the country plant hundred of thousands of trees, and Tree Campus USA colleges and universities $23 million in campus forest management last year.
3500 John A. Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university and is a comprehensive, urban, coeducational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top Universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912 Tennessee State University celebrates 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu
About Tennessee State University