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Kansas Wesleyan University

The Kansas Wesleyan University annual Arbor Day celebration is set for Friday, only this time there is a growing reason to participate.

Last February, the university achieved the prestigious designation of 2018 Tree Campus USA from the Arbor Day Foundation for its commitment to effective urban forest management.

“Tree Campuses and their students set examples not only for their student bodies, but the surrounding communities showcasing how trees create a healthier environment,” said Dan Lambe, president of the Arbor Day Foundation.

This year’s event will be at 1:30 p.m. Friday by the beach volleyball court on campus. Representatives from the City of Salina will be on hand, and are donating two Bur Oak trees that are donated by the city in recognition of the Arbor Day Foundation designation.

It was former KWU employee Steve Blu who took the time and effort to seek the Arbor Day Foundation designation. For the first year, there are multiple steps to follow to ensure the campus lives up to its new reputations, and to assure the designation is repeated in subsequent years.

The Tree Campus USA program honors colleges and universities for effective campus forest management and for engaging staff and students in conservation goals.

KWU 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. There are 364 campuses across the United States with the recognition.

Dr. Stephanie Welter, chair of the KWU Department of Biology, said the history of trees on campus makes it important to understand what species are grown, and to use that as a learning experience for students.

Kansas State University Horticulturist Jason L. Graves also worked with the KWU committee to help meet the foundation’s criteria. “This designation is exciting for KWU and the Salina community because it demonstrates a growing sense of awareness of the critical role that nature, especially trees, play in the health and vitality of our students and citizens and our ecosystem as a whole,” Graves said.