KOKOMO, Ind. – Indiana University Kokomo has earned Tree Campus Higher Education recognition for the third year in a row, for the campus’ continuing commitment to effective forest management.
IU Kokomo was one of 393 campuses receiving the 2021 Tree Campus designation from the Arbor Day Foundation, the world’s largest membership nonprofit organization dedicated to planting trees.
“I’m immensely grateful to our environmentally-minded community here at IU Kokomo,” said Andy Tuholski, director of the Office of Sustainability.
“This recognition represents not only the dedication of our interns, facilities leadership, steering committee members, and volunteers, but the importance that the university places on maintaining the natural beauty of our campus.”
IU Kokomo first achieved distinction as a Tree Campus in 2019, and again in 2020. The honor is gained by meeting Tree Campus Higher Education’s five standards: Maintaining a tree advisory committee, a campus tree-care plan, dedicated annual expenditures for a campus’ tree program, observance of Arbor Day, and a student service-learning project.
To maintain the campus’ recognition, Tuholski said that IU Kokomo has continued to increase its current tree canopy and inventory of campus trees.
Also, students and staff have hosted educational events, planted new trees, grown and given away potted herbs, and brought in speakers on a variety of environmental topics.
Tuholski added that the campus’ preferred species list has been refined, and that the number and diversity of native species has increased on the grounds. That effort will continue this spring, with grant funding from Women of the Well House, IU Kokomo’s philanthropic giving circle.
Don Lambe, chief executive of the Arbor Day Foundation, said trees play a vital role not only in the environment, but in daily life.
“Having trees on college and university campuses is a great way to show a commitment to students and faculty’s overall well-being,” he said.
The Arbor Day Foundation states that the presence of trees on campuses and in urban spaces can lower energy costs by providing shade cover, cleaner air and water, and green spaces for students and faculty. Trees can also improve the mental and cognitive health of students and provide a welcoming aesthetic on campuses.
The Tree Campus Higher Education program began in 2008 to encourage colleges and universities to plant trees on their campuses and involve students and staff in conservation goals.
“Ultimately, we aim to engage our students through service projects, internships, research grants, and events to help them learn about environmental stewardship,” Tuholski said. “It’s our responsibility to respect it, understand it, and ultimately take care of it.”
Alissa Russell, a student intern in the Office of Sustainability, is excited about the recognition for the campus, as well as “the chance to combine what I’ve learned in my classes with my passion for environmentalism.”
The Office of Sustainability will promote the importance of its practices during Sustainability Week, from April 11 to April 15. Students can plant trees on campus, hear from speakers, learn about sustainable food choices, and more.