For the 5th year in a row, the Arbor Day Foundation honored Jacksonville University with the Tree Campus USA award, recognizing the University’s commitment to protecting its beautiful campus.
The Tree Campus USA award recognizes college campuses across the nation that promote healthy urban forest management and engage in campus activities that advocate for environmental health.
In order to receive this recognition, colleges and universities must meet the following requirements:
- Establish a Campus Tree Committee that has diverse representation
- Develop a Campus Tree Care Plan consisting of strong environmental and sustainability policies
- Establish a Campus Tree Program with dedicated annual expenditures
- Observe Arbor Day as a campus community
- Develop a environmental service-learning project
JU is known for its beautiful campus landscape with 250 acres of majestic oaks and lush greenery on the banks of the St. Johns River. “Receiving the Tree Campus USA accreditation for the 5th year in a row is a great feeling,” said Associate Professor of Geography and Sustainability Ashley Johnson. “The Tree Campus USA committee has many members and they are all a part of this work.”
Another member of the committee, Dr. Nisse Goldberg, shared her inspiration from nature and how it has significantly impacted her. “I value the diversity of plants and animals. The more you look, the more you see,” she said. “For example, on campus, I love seeing when the robins come in during the migration season, when the oaks drop their acorns, when the red maple and liquid amber leaves turn colors in autumn.”
Founded in 1972, the Arbor Day Foundation values the importance of campus forest management and recognizes campuses across the US that share those values.
Now more than ever, Jacksonville University’s campus community appreciates the value of its beautiful campus. Students, faculty, and staff are meeting, learning, eating, and socializing outdoors, where it’s easier to social distance.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also forced the JU Tree Campus Committee to get a little creative. Although the campus was closed during Arbor Day this past spring, committee members still took the opportunity to observe the national awareness day by snapping a few photos of their newly planted trees and landscaping on campus to post on social media.
As part of its Campus Tree Program and Care Plan, students are encouraged to do their part, taking small steps to protect the environment and adopt planet-friendly habits.
“I try my best to emphasize just how special the earth is, and as humans it is our job to protect it and stand up for it whenever we can,” said Johnson. “I hope that they are inspired to take action, even if it is a small step, to do something better for the planet.”
By Kennedi Townes – Sophomore, Communications Major