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The Arbor Day Foundation recently honored Kent State University with the "Tree Campus USA" designation for the fifth time in the program's five-year history.
KSU grounds manager Heather White said her staff is dedicated to achieving the designation, which recognizes "excellence in campus tree management."
"At this point, we're like a heat-seeking missile," White said. "We're going after it every year."
According to the Arbor Day Foundation, schools must meet five standards to be named a "Tree Campus."
The school must:
Create a tree advisory committee with students, staff and local residents.
Establish a tree care plan.
Allocate an unspecified amount of funding for tree-related projects annually.
Observe Arbor Day.
Create a service learning project for students.
White said while the university meets the first four standards easily every year, KSU officials must put serious work into the service project. This fall, geology students began an effort to create a database of all of the trees on campus for future use by the university's grounds staff.
"We can start tracking maintenance, or damage, or new planting, or whether it's a memorial tree, so we can get some real good work histories," White said.
She said students working on the project, which also served as a two-credit hour class, inventoried about 300 trees. The effort will likely continue for multiple years, both as a class and a resource for the university.
University employees could use the database in the future if an invasive species or disease strikes certain trees on the campus. The last time an invasive species struck -- the arrival of the emerald ash borer on campus last spring -- the grounds staff had to replace most of the university's ash trees before damaged trees became dangerous to pedestrians and cars.
White said she looks forward to future work with students on projects to protect and improve the life of trees on campus, which will hopefully lead to continued recognition as a "Tree Campus." She said her crew members also realize their work with the university's trees, especially those located on front campus, plays an important role in how visitors, students and staff view the school.
"It's a point of pride with my staff," White said. "They're very aware their (work is) the first impression on campus."
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