Hobart and William Smith were honored with the 2013 Tree Campus USA® recognition by the Arbor Day Foundation for their commitment to effective urban forest management. The Tree Campus USA® designation recognizes college and university campuses that effectively manage their campus trees, develop connectivity with the community beyond campus borders to foster healthy urban forests, and strive to engage their student population utilizing service learning opportunities centered on campus and community forestry efforts.
“Receiving the Tree Campus USA designation again emphasizes the Colleges’ longstanding commitment to our urban forest,” says Sarah Meyer, community outreach coordinator for the Finger Lakes Institute at HWS. The Finger Lakes Institute continues to facilitate discussion and education across campus and the Geneva community through its Urban Forest Project, which includes Tree Campus USA.
This is the second year that Hobart and William Smith Colleges 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 for its campus tree program, an Arbor Day observance and student service-learning project. Among the ways the Colleges fulfilled these requirements are:
The Colleges’ 13-member Campus Tree Advisory Committee includes representatives from HWS faculty, students, facility management, the Finger Lakes Institute and the Geneva community. The Colleges will maintain its goal of a 2:1 replacement plan to replenish their community forest. With the addition of the new Performing Arts Center as a LEED certified building, HWS also will continue to honor William Smith’s legacy by planting trees for future generations of HWS students upon completion of the center’s construction.
“We are happy the Arbor Day Foundation continues to honor us,” says David Iannicello, the grounds manager at the Colleges and member of the Campus Tree Advisory Committee.
Last spring, Dean of William Smith College and Professor of History Susanne McNally and students in her “Food Systems in History” course, in cooperation with the HWS Campus Tree Advisory Committee, planted 15 fruit trees on campus to recognize Arbor Day 2013. The Colleges’ first orchard, it is located behind the campus garden maintained by the Sustainable Foods Club. Also in celebration of Arbor Day 2013, the committee joined with the City of Geneva and the Geneva City Shade Tree Committee in an event in which 500 West Street School elementary students planted seven Ginkgo trees at the school. HWS student volunteers working with the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning also gave more than 600 hours of service to maintaining and caring for urban forests.
Meyer and Iannicello, both members of the Campus Tree Advisory Committee, provided a walking tour of campus to HWS alums during Reunion Weekend this past summer. The two are active members of the Geneva Shade Tree Committee.
Also throughout 2013, the Finger Lakes Institute at HWS supported two interns to conduct the HWS Urban Forest Inventory which maps and identifies each tree on campus in the hopes of calculating the value and environmental services provided by the Colleges’ urban forest. One of the interns, Sarah Buckleitner ’14 is excited for her role in helping the Colleges achieve the Tree Campus USA designation a second year.
“I’m passionate about this topic because I feel that trees are a resource that often go unnoticed by the people around them. We’re so used to them being part of our landscape that we don’t take the time to appreciate the benefits that we gain from them,” she says.
She cites as examples that they sequester carbon dioxide (which contributes to global climate change), prevent erosion, reduce heating and cooling costs in buildings by providing shade/windbreaks, and provide habitat for native critters.
“In a nut shell, they’re a highly important part of our ecosystem that not many people think about, and I hope that my position helps to draw them into the limelight,” she adds.
HWS’ selection as a Tree Campus USA® celebrates and recognizes the Colleges’ commitment to natural resource conservation and greening initiatives which can be shown through a culmination of decades of environmental conservation on campus, inspired by nurseryman William Smith. After working for a Geneva nurseryman, Smith and his two brothers started their own nursery raising and selling ornamental plants. Smith eventually focused his efforts on plant breeding and acquiring a large collection of natural history specimens. In 1906, he donated nearly $500,000 to establish William Smith College for women.
The campus now contains more than 1,700 trees from 42 genera and 73 species. Other forest-related initiatives on campus include a 2:1 tree replacement policy; mulching of plantings to conserve moisture; and recycling of leaves and grass clippings from campus grounds to compost and later add to soil as an amendment for planting.
When first honored with the Tree Campus USA designation in 2012, the Colleges were among one of only six such campuses in the nation to be chosen for a 2012 Tree Campus USA tree planting event. More than 70 trees were planted on the William Smith Hill as part of that year’s Arbor Day celebration.
Tree Campus USA is a national program created in 2008 by the Arbor Day Foundation and sponsored by Toyota. The Arbor Day Foundation and Toyota have helped campuses throughout the country plant thousands of trees, and Tree Campus USA colleges and universities invested more than $26 million in campus forest management last year. More information about the program is available at arborday.org/TreeCampusUSA.