Freshmen Caitlin Purnell, Mike Robin, Kimchua Heng and Emily Zhang bask in the sun while enjoying one of UR’s many regal trees. Courtesy of Drue Sokol, Photo Editor.

Save the trees! To the University, this phrase represents more than just words, but also a force of action that is gaining momentum among student groups, campus leaders and citizens throughout the community.
The Tree Campus USA program is headed by the Arbor Day Foundation, a non-profit organization whose mission is to spread awareness of tree protection and encourage planting through outreach. There are five criteria which must be met to be a Tree Campus USA university, including having a tree advisory committee, having a campus tree care plan, designating an annual expenditure to tree care, observing Earth Day and implementing tree learning service projects.
It appears that UR has met these requirements, as the University is now one of fewer than 100 schools to be added to the list.
“We sponsor the tree planting and tree tour on Earth Day and encourage environmental [preservation] habits through events and activities [such as] UR Unplugged, Recyclemania, Earth Day, Mt. Trashmore and more,” senior Liesel Schwarz, manager of Team Green, said of Grassoot’s role in the effort to conserve trees and share campus responsibility of educating others about tree conservation. Schwarz is also a member of the arboretum committee which has an interest in horticulture at the University.
Schwarz explained that she became involved in these endeavors because she understands the importance of trees on many levels and wants others to share her concern about the fact that, while they are a crucial part of the environment and necessary for wildlife, trees will not always be around.
“I personally love their beauty and how trees can make an area feel safe and comfortable,” she said. “There is also the natural carbon sequestration they provide. Keeping a diversity of trees is also important for the biodiversity of the area … You will miss them when they are gone.”
Another accomplishment the University has garnered as a new Tree Campus USA participant is that Daniel Schied, Manager of Horticulture and Grounds, was recently certified by the Professional Management Grounds Society. He is the 132nd person in the country to successfully complete this demanding program, which exists for the sole purpose of the expansion of goals and professional development, as it involves the grounds management field. The certification process entails a multitude of requirements from completing a year of work, to making a presentation about budget, management, equipment fees and horticulture processes before a review board to ensure that the individual has a college degree in horticulture, at least six years of experience as a grounds management professional or an approved combination of education and experience.
“We have an obligation to look around us, both locally and globally, and ask if our world is going to be able to sustain the demands we are putting on it,” Schied said. “Sustainability is certainly not just a passing notion, but will become more ingrained into our thinking and practices as time moves on.”
He also expressed that his certification should not be the focus of the title UR received from the Arbor Day Foundation. He believes the Tree Campus USA award is due to the collaborative efforts of students, faculty, staff and community members who have worked hard to take care of the trees and plant more. Yet Schwarz believes Shied does make a difference on campus.
“Mr. Schied is a great resource for anyone — Grassroots uses his expertise whenever we want to expand our efforts to the campus grounds,” Shwarz said, referencing projects such as tree planting on Earth Day and planting a garden out side of Gilbert.
The Tree Campus USA program focuses on the concept of saving trees and planting more.For those interested in the cause in general, Schwarz suggests taking the initiative of planning a tree tour. In her opinion, it is  wonderful  because it gives people the opportunity to learn and ask questions. One of the major events the University holds each year is a tree planting activity that takes place during Earth Week.
“I’m just thrilled with the interest and excitement of students during the tree planting events each year,” Schied said. “People are usually smiling and enjoying the project. It’s one of the highlights of the year for me.”
“From a sustainability angle, it’s definitely night and day,” Shied said, comparing views from when he was in college to the contemporary perspective. “Recycling was just becoming a word when I was in college and the recycling totes were not even a common thing until after I left college. It’s completely different now, but it’s all good.”
Acosta is a member of
the class of 2012.

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