This year Colorado State University competed against 51 other campuses in the first ever Arbor Day Event Contest. To be eligible for the competition the school must have been recognized as a 2013 Tree Campus.
Over 53,000 voters chose their favorite Tree Campus USA from Oct. 22-25, the top 10 winners were released Oct. 24, and CSU was the most voted large school.
“We tried to inspire campus and friends to vote and it was really kinda neat the energy that picked up with it,” said Jamie Dahl, experiential learning coordinator at CSU. “Students were really good about getting it out on social media, and we had a lot of support from different departments here at CSU to make that happen.”
Winning schools were awarded t-shirts, yard signs, banners and $500 to be put towards the purchase of trees or tree-related materials on campus.
To join the competition, Dahl prepared a document explaining how CSU planned to take its Arbor Day celebration to the next level.
“What I pitched was that we were gonna try to do a little bit bigger celebration in the Spring,” Dahl said. “Our first year [of Arbor Day celebration] we had a lot of people for that one, but since then we’ve had smaller events and we’d like to attract more people.”
The past three years, Colorado State Forest Service and Facilities Management have teamed up to organize the event. This year CSU plans to combine the Arbor Day event with another environmental celebration to attract a bigger crowd.
Tree Campus USA is a program where a college campus applies to meet certain standards: having a campus tree advisory committee, having a campus tree care plan, having a campus tree program with dedicated annual expenditures, Arbor Day event observance and a service learning project every year.
“CSU was doing a lot of those things anyways so we decided to pull together the package materials to apply,” Dahl said. “We pulled the material together for 2011, so spring of 2012 was our first celebration as an official Tree Campus of USA.”
Part of having a tree care plan on campus is maintaining the current trees, but also replanting when necessary.
Fred Haberecht, assistant director of Landscape and Planning, oversees the rate at which CSU does this.
“The biggest problem we have with maintaining these trees and having them endure for another 50 years plus, is over use of the Oval,” Haberecht said. “The more events we have on campus or whenever we see a vehicle on the grass of the Oval, these are things that diminish the ability for viable trees to grow.”
In the spring of 2012, more elm trees were planted in the Oval to account for trees dying of old age or disease.
Craig Carlson, a sophomore at CSU, values the effort put into being a Tree Campus USA.
“It just makes the whole campus more beautiful,” Carlson said. “The beauty of the campus matters to me since I’ll be here for three more years I would like to enjoy my campus and the trees make it hard not too.”
Collegian Reporter Veronica Baas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @vcbaas.