Alex Kurland, Staff Illustrator

In 2011, UR joined a new movement — the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree Campus USA program — becoming one of less than 100 schools nationwide that have been awarded this title. Likewise, the University became the sixth member from New York, being officially recognized for their green efforts, joining Cornell University, Bard College, Jamestown Community College, St. Bonaventure University, and Cazenovia College.

Including this year, UR has been named Tree Campus USA for the third consecutive year. The Tree Campus USA program was created in 2008 to recognize colleges that, according to the Arbor Day Foundation, “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.” These schools must have a detailed campus tree plan with appropiated funds, a service learning project, and observe Arbor Day.

The foundation measures all prospective schools  through five standards that include: tree advisory committees; campus tree-care plans; dedicated annual expenditures toward trees; Arbor Day observances, and student service-learning projects. These guidelines were met through the hard work of the University’s horticulture and grounds department. There are 61 trees, 12 conifers, and six gardens on campus.

In 2012, UR was also one of five Tree Campus USA schools to receive $1,000 to fund an Arbor Day tree-planting event. This event was held on April 27 in collaboration with the city of Rochester and Monroe County.  Through the event, UR was able to spread environmental awareness within the greater Rochester community.

In addition, Genesee Valley Park’s enormously popular yet now fallen “tree of life” was honored at the event. The 150 year old oak tree, characterized by its thick, horizontal branches that are spread in all directions around the tree, split in half on July 4, 2010. The apparent cause of death was that the base could not handle the weight of its branches.

UR continues to be a leader in sustainability on college campuses through efforts such as the introduction of a new sustainability minor, the promotion of composting in Danforth Dining Center, and the EcoRep Program offered to freshmen to incorporate environmental sustainability into everyday dormitory life. Currently there are numerous campaigns across various student groups to improve sustainability.

The latest environmental initiative is a proposed ban on plastic water bottles for the River Campus. “Team Green,” which is spearheading the initative, consists of a group of five students employed by Dining Services to assist with sustainability efforts as well as to serve as liaisons between the student body and dining services.

This plastic water bottle ban will be discussed Thursday, Feb. 7, in the Gowen Room at 6:00 p.m. Students are encouraged to attend to provide dialogue on the issue at hand.

As exemplified by the many efforts made throughout the 2012-2013 school year to promote environmental consciousness on campus, UR continues to strive to maintain its respected title as Tree Campus USA for years to come.

Additional Reporting by Doug Brady.
Richardson is a member of the class of 2015.

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