May 10, 2013
A walk around the Temple University Ambler Campus provides a clear indication that the care of trees is an important aspect of the research and hands-on opportunities students and faculty in Temple’s School of Environmental Design engage in every semester.
With a continued commitment to determining new and better ways to care for the campus’ tree collection, Temple University Ambler, home to the Ambler Arboretum of Temple University, was awarded a “Tree Campus USA” designation by the Arbor Day Foundation for 2012.
Tree Campus USA is a national program created in 2008 to honor colleges and universities for effective campus forest management and for engaging staff and students in conservation goals.
“Achieving the Tree Campus USA designation has been a goal of the Ambler Campus Sustainability Council for some time,” said Dr. Sasha Eisenman, Assistant Professor of Horticulture in Temple’s Department of Landscape Architecture and Horticulture, who is coordinating Ambler’s continued involvement in the Tree Campus USA program. “To our benefit, our campus already met a lot of the criteria required for Tree Campus USA. Our faculty and students were already actively engaged in the care and maintenance of the trees on campus.”
According to the Arbor Day Foundation, the Ambler Campus 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 toward trees, an Arbor Day observance and student service-learning projects.
“Students are eager to volunteer in their communities and become better stewards of the environment,” said John Rosenow, founder and chief executive of the Arbor Day Foundation. “Participating in Tree Campus USA sets a fine example for other colleges and universities, while helping to create a healthier planet for all of us.”
Eisenman said the first step to achieving the Tree Campus USA designation was forming a campus tree advisory committee comprised of students, faculty, facilities managers, and community representatives.
“We’ve also developed and adopted a tree-care plan that was put together by Master of Landscape Architecture student Sara Street. One of the great things about the process is that it raised questions about how to improve tree care,” he said. “The process has placed an important focus on stewardship of the campus and the trees on campus.”
The Arbor Day Foundation has helped campuses throughout the country plant hundreds of thousands of trees, and Tree Campus USA colleges and universities invested $23 million in campus forest management last year.
Throughout the year, Eisenman said, students, faculty and staff readily engage in projects well suited for the Tree Campus USA title — a designation which the campus will reapply for in each subsequent year — including detailed tree inventories in the “Woody Plants” class, volunteer tree plantings on and off campus and campus “sustainability action days” designed to clear invasive plants from various areas on campus and replace them with native trees and plants. A special Arbor Day tree planting was held during EarthFest 2012 and — working closely with campus horticultural staff — further tree plantings will take place this year and in years to come, Eisenman said.
“A lot of what we do utilizes the arboretum in beneficial, educational ways. We use the campus as a living laboratory,” he said. “Throughout this entire process, students, faculty and staff have been involved in taking part in committees and developing important documents designed toward maintaining improving the campus.”
The Arbor Day Foundation is a nonprofit conservation and education organization of one million members, with the mission to inspire people to plant, nurture and celebrate trees.