By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Oklahoma City University has earned recognition as a 2019 Tree Campus USA, an Arbor Day Foundation, for its commitment to effective urban forest management.
The Tree Campus USA program honors colleges and universities for effective campus forest management and for engaging staff and students in conservation goals.
“Tree Campuses and their students set examples for not only their student bodies but the surrounding communities showcasing how trees create a healthier environment,” said Dan Lambe, president of the Arbor Day Foundation.
“Because of Oklahoma City University’s participation, air will be purer, water cleaner and your students and faculty will be surrounded by the shade and beauty the trees provide,” Lambe added.
Trees benefit the environment by providing shade, giving protection from the wind, and cleaning the air. Additionally, a commitment to trees on campus can significantly reduce the amount of energy a campus needs to generate.
Green spaces give students and faculty a setting to relax outdoors. Planting, and maintaining, trees on campus reduces carbon dioxide in the atmosphere – which is one of the important roles that trees play.
OCU achieved the title by meeting Tree Campus USA’s five standards, which include maintaining a tree advisory committee, a campus tree-care plan, dedicated annual expenditures for its campus tree program, an Arbor Day observance and student service-learning projects.
Currently there are 385 campuses across the United States with this recognition.
“We are honored to receive this distinction again from the Arbor Day Foundation,” said OCU President Martha Burger. “The recognition holds extra special meaning for our students, faculty and staff this year after the loss of one of our beloved professors, Dr. John Starkey (June 17, 1953 – January 11, 2020), who taught us to appreciate the grace and grandeur of all trees.”
In addition to Oklahoma City University, the following Oklahoma campuses were recognized as a Tree Campus USA for 2019: Cameron University, Northeaster State University (Tahlequah campus), Oklahoma Baptist University, Oklahoma City Community College, Oklahoma State University, and Tulsa Community College – Northeast, Southeast, Metro and West campuses.
The Arbor Day Foundation has helped campuses throughout the country plant thousands of trees. Tree Campus USA colleges and universities invested more than $51 million in campus forest management last year.
This work directly supports the Arbor Day Foundation initiative, Time for Trees— an historic effort to plant 100 million trees in forests and communities and inspire 5 million tree planters by 2022.
Moving toward accomplishing those goals, last year Tree Campus USA schools collectively planted 34,515 trees and engaged 33,432 tree planters.
National Arbor Day, an annual observance dedicated to public tree planting and care, is celebrated on the last Friday in April. All fifty states, Puerto Rico, and other U.S. territories have passed legislation adopting Arbor Day. The event is celebrated on a date appropriate for tree planting in each region.
In Oklahoma Arbor Day is celebrated the last full week in March.
More information about the Tree Campus USA program is available online.