Oglethorpe has been officially recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation as a Tree Campus, a designation that acknowledges the university’s commitment to maintaining a clean, green campus environment and engaging students, faculty and staff in conservation efforts.
Though the national recognition comes just a year after the recent launch of new sustainability initiatives, efforts to preserve the university’s natural landscape — even in its urban setting — have been in place since 2008.
To receive the Tree Campus designation, several requirements needed to be met. The university must maintain a “Tree Advisory Committee” and a campus tree-care plan, dedicate funds annually towards tree care, host an Arbor Day observance and a student service-learning project.
Comprised of faculty, staff and students, the Tree Advisory Committee helps guide campus conservation efforts. Together, the committee has held environment education sessions, established a direction for maintaining the campus’s tree canopy and eradicating invasive species, and organized service projects, campus cleanups, and tree and creek clearings.
Serving on Oglethorpe’s committee are: Professor of Biology Dr. Roarke Donnelly, arborist Chris Hughes, Grounds and Sports Field Manager Justin Solsvig, and students Kristian Sandal and Naomi Wagner.
It was the committee’s campus cleanup projects that marked the university’s celebration of Earth Day and Arbor Day. Together with the student organization Environmentally Conscious Oglethorpe Students (ECOS), members of the campus community participated in two projects that removed debris from creeks on campus and cleared out invasive and overgrown plants from the forests. Dr. Donnelly also hosted a recycling demonstration for students.
Oglethorpe University joins more than 400 higher education institutions nationwide as a Tree Campus. With a robust infrastructure that helps care for the campus’s treescape, students, faculty and staff are continuing to work together to create an environment Petrels can feel proud of.
“Receiving this designation shows future and current students, faculty, staff, and our neighbors that we truly care about what is happening environmentally around us, inside and outside the walls of Oglethorpe,” says Solsvig. “My hope is that receiving this designation has a butterfly effect on everyone who steps on this campus and does their part to create an environment everyone can enjoy at Oglethorpe and beyond.”