K-State arboriculture students celebrate Arbor Day

(Photo Courtesy of Courtney Thomas)

Cathie Lavis, associate professor of landscape management, said she received a phone call in 2012 from one of her friends who told her that the University of Kansas was becoming a Tree Campus USA college. This in-state rivalry led Lavis to take action and try to make K-State a Tree Campus USA college as well.

Lavis must submit a recertification every year for K-State to remain a Tree Campus USA college. There are five standards a school must achieve to become a designated Tree Campus USA college, according to the Arbor Day Foundation’s website. The first is that there has to be a Campus Tree Advisory Committee that features students.

There has to be a written Campus Tree Care Plan that outlines what is being done on campus, according to the foundation’s website. The final three standards to be a Tree Campus USA college are a list of the dedicated annual expenditures, Arbor Day Observance and a Service Learning Project.

Lavis said the university met these five requirements in 2013, and K-State officially became a designated Tree Campus USA college. According to the Tree Campus USA packet that Lavis submitted on behalf of K-State, it was very important for K-State to become a Tree Campus USA college because it helps promote and encourage tree care.

“Thanks to a 2016 Green Action Fund Grant: Promoting and Recognizing the Value of Our Campus Trees, arboriculture students will plant six trees and highlight 18 trees with permanent, colored signs,” according to a K-State Today post published on April 26.

These signs are in front of different trees on campus and highlight information about the trees. They show the type of tree, the date it was planted, height, appraised value and more. There is also a QR code that people can scan on their phones to find out even more about the specific tree.

“We just really want to educate people,” Lavis said. “That is what this is about. We want to encourage people to protect and restore these trees because they are valuable resources.”

Along with these signs, there were events and activities on campus last week to promote and encourage tree-care practices. Tables were set up in the Quad showcasing different specimens of trees and educating students on the benefits of trees.

Courtney Thomas, senior in animal sciences and industry, said she led the marketing campaign for the events. She ran the Facebook and Twitter pages for the events, hung up posters around campus and helped make buttons to give to students.

“I just wanted it to be a bigger deal,” Thomas said. “I had never heard about Tree Campus USA, so I tried to help increase the amount of people that were able to see it.”

Thomas said she and Brady Hendricks, senior in horticulture, went to Marlatt Elementary School on April 29 with a group of students to teach the kids how to identify the differences among trees.

“We just want the kids to look around,” Hendricks said. “I think our culture tends to be self-focused, so we want the kids to take a step back and appreciate the environment and how much the trees actually do for us.”

The “Grand Finale” as Lavis called it, occurred on April 29 when the arboriculture students planted a sugar hackberry tree on the president’s north lawn.

“We are replacing a tree that was taken down due to potentially being hazardous,” Hendricks said. “All trees die, so we have to replace the ones that die or else there won’t be any trees left on campus.”