Central College recently was honored with 2018 Tree Campus USA recognition by the Arbor Day Foundation for promoting healthy trees and further engaging students and staff in conservation efforts.
Tree Campus USA recognition is given to campuses that meet five standards including:
- Maintaining a tree advisory committee
- A campus-tree care plan
- Dedicated annual expenditures for its campus tree program
- An Arbor Day observance
- Student-service learning projects
The recognition is a progression in Central’s sustainability education, of which Central is a leader in Iowa and the Midwest. For more than a century, Central students and staff have helped plant and care for trees on campus, and this honor recognizes the college’s ongoing commitment to trees.
Zach Greder ’19 and his friends living in the green pods-one of Central’s sustainable housing options-led the effort to obtain the recognition, applying as part of a sustainability project. With the help of Brian Campbell, Central’s director of sustainability education, Greder and friends began the process of meeting the five core standards of the Arbor Day Foundation and getting Central accredited for this honor.
“When we talk about the kinds of opportunities students have here, it’s not just that you can take a class about sustainability,” Campbell says. “Students at Central get to make a difference, whether it’s here on campus or in the broader community. We give them opportunities to learn and to be the leaders of these real-world projects.”
“This project was probably a year and a half in the making for us,” Greder says. “It’s cool to see all that come to fruition. It sets us apart. We’re still a standard of sustainability here at Central and it’s something we take pride in.”
In addition to meeting the five core standards, Central is integrating trees into its sustainability education in some unique ways. The campus now has annual maple syrup harvesting and apple cider pressing events. Students produce a “Tree of the Week” column for the college’s sustainability blog, profiling the diverse tree species on campus. As part of Central’s annual Service Day, students and staff participate in tree care projects at locations like Lake Red Rock, Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge and other public parks.
“Tree Campuses and their students set examples for not only their student bodies, but the surrounding communities showcasing how trees create a healthier environment,” says Dan Lambe, president of the Arbor Day Foundation.
Central is the sixth college in Iowa to earn Tree Campus USA recognition, joining the University of Iowa, Iowa State University, Drake University, Clarke University and Kirkwood Community College. There are 364 campuses across the United States with this recognition.
For more information about the Arbor Day Foundation, visit www.arborday.org.