XU hopes to join the Arbor Day Foundation as a Higher Education Tree Campus
By griffin Brammer, Digital Communications Manager
Large, brightly colored price tags have been placed on trees around campus. The tags are an educational tool implemented by the university and the “prices” represent the average amount of money each tree is expected to save the university in carbon sequestration and energy shielding over the next 10 years.
The goal of the price tags is to fulfill a service learning requirement to be recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation as a Higher Education Tree Campus. The Arbor Day Foundation lists campuses that have reached national recognition for their part in expanding their community forests.
The committee to become recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation was formed by Physical Plant. Efforts began in August 2020 when the director of the School of Education, Kathy Winterman, brought the idea to Physical Plant.
“I saw (the program) in one of the college journals that I read… and I thought that there isn’t a better university to deserve the recognition,” she said.
Application requirements include evidence of a tree care plan and observance of Arbor Day on campus, which last year took the form of planting a tree in Father Graham’s name outside Our Lady of Peace Chapel.
“The last piece is the service learning project, which we’re fulfilling with the price tags,” Alex Bernhard, groundskeeper for the physical plant and pointman for the Higher Education Tree Campus committee, explained. “We’ll be submitting our application soon.”
“We also must develop our own goals, and there are other sub-projects we’re pursuing,” Bernhard added.
The committee’s current goal is to begin working with a Xavier alum at Cincinnati Parks to inventory and map every tree on campus with geographic information system technology.
Recognition could mean a lot for Xavier and its staff.
“Down the road, (being recognized) could lead to grant opportunities and could function as a marketing tool for prospective students and their parents,” Bernhard stated.
“It’ll recognize the hard work that has been done for years. We have a lot of committed people that work on our grounds on a daily basis that don’t get the recognition they deserve,” Winterman added.
Kayleigh Bush is a junior environmental sciences major who believes the inclusion of Xavier’s campus on the foundation’s list could be important for student wellness.
“If Xavier were to join this list… I think it would help prove the importance of natural spaces on campus, which I firmly believe that we need more of,” she said.
She also cited the importance of better green spaces in improving students’ stress levels, attention span and mood.
“There aren’t really areas where students can go to be alone and refresh in the current campus layout,” Bush explained.
Winterman added that both Xavier Sustainability Club and the Montessori program have plans to plant more trees on campus.
For now, Bush appreciates the committee’s educational efforts.
“(The price tags look) very out of place, which interested people and caused them to look at them,” she said. “My friends who haven’t taken a single science course talked about (the price tags) and found it interesting.”
Bush ascertained that the best way to continue education efforts is for the committee to do more “out of pocket ideas” that will pique student’s interests.
“Once you have people’s attention, they’ll get talking, which then hopefully causes some change,” Bush said.