For its effort in building and sustaining healthy community forests, Troy University has been recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation as a Tree Campus USA.
Arbor Day Foundation, which is a nationally recognized nonprofit, works to promote tree plantation through education and conservation programs. Tree Campus USA, a program launched in 2008 and sponsored by Toyota, honors colleges and universities working to plant, promote and preserve tree resources.
“This is one of those distinctions that emphasizes that Troy has shown a real commitment towards care and attention for trees,” said Mark Salmon, director of the university’s Physical Plant. “This is an opportunity to showcase and recognize the effort so many people put forward in maintaining this campus’ greenery.”
According to the Arbor Day Foundation website, the criteria needed to be distinguished as a Tree Campus USA includes: having a campus tree advisory committee, a campus tree care plan, a dedicated annual expenditure for tree-care, an Arbor Day observance on-campus and a student-engaged learning service project—all five standards that Troy has been able to achieve.
According to Josh Slaven, grounds manager for the university’s Physical Plant, Troy’s campus tree advisory committee includes himself, associate professor for freshman biology Wayne Morris, coordinator of Service Learning and Civic Engagement Jonathan Cellon, director of Troy Parks and Recreation Dan Smith and two students including SGA president Cody Farrill and Parker Reiss.
“We have an annual expenditure of $32,000 including material cost and staff and contacted labor,” Slaven said.
He also mentioned activities like the removal of invasive species from the arboretum, which was an initiative taken in conjunction with the environment club last year as examples of student-engaged service learning projects.
Salmon also said that the establishment of the Janice Hawkins Park has been a jewel in highlighting what Troy has done for its college environment.
“Five or six years ago, that area was just completely over-run,” Salmon said. “To give you an idea, it was like the park near the Arboretum now. We could not really see the trees; it was filled with unwanted plants and species.
We developed it into an area with a park and a trail and even an amphitheater. We turned it from something unusable to something beautiful.” Salmon says that the park very well represents Troy University and its namesake, Mrs. Hawkins.
An official ceremony will be organized on March 5, at 1:30 p.m. when the university will hold its Arbor Day observance. University officials will be presented with a flag and a Tree Campus USA plaque by a representative from the Alabama Forestry Commission.
Although the details are still in planning, according to Slaven, the event will include a free-tree giveaway, which comprises of giving out Japanese maple and oak seedlings. “Hopefully the Chancellor and a couple of other officials will be involved in receiving of the award, and, we may be installing a tree either near the main quad or the math and science building,” he said.
Slaven also said that other student groups and clubs, wanting to be engaged in Troy’s conservation work, may be involved in the ceremony by having tables or booths or volunteering.
For the upcoming year, Troy also plans to do more of tree planting within the community if not necessarily on-campus, according to Slaven. He also says that they plan to begin a campus tree assessment project, which would include inventorying the trees on campus, categorizing them according to their species and corresponding numbers, and even mapping their locations.