Steven James // Staff Writer
[dropcap]U[/dropcap]NT is Tree Campus USA-certified for the sixth year in a row after working to keep the plants on campus healthy by landscaping outside areas that needed visual improvements and making sure that students took care of the plants on campus,
Tree Campus USA is a program sponsored by Toyota that awards colleges and universities that keep their campuses environmentally healthy and engage students in conservation awareness. It is given in celebration of Arbor Day, an annual event dedicated to publicly planting trees. The award was won by the combined efforts of UNT Sustainability and Facilities.
In order for UNT to win the award, it needed to create a tree advisory committee, develop a tree-care plan that was annually verified and participate in an Arbor Day observance that involved the student body.
Projects related to the trees on campus are partially funded by students through the “We Mean Green Fund,” in which each student pays $5 per semester through UNT Sustainability to make sure that the plants on campus are taken care of.
UNT currently has more than 2,000 trees on the more than 200 acres of the main campus.
“It’s nice to sit under a tree or even in the grass,” landscape grounds manager Lanse Fullinwider said. “Trees make the Earth cooler and lower temperatures make the world more pleasant for us.”
He said that Tree Campus USA was first introduced in 2008. The only two Texas school to earn the award that year were UNT and the University of Texas.
Fullinwider said he has been working at UNT since 1989, and taking care of the plants on campus for that many years has not been an easy task.
“People walk a lot of times where they shouldn’t,” he said. “Compaction is the number one enemy of soil, and people walking on the plants causes compaction to the soil. That’s thousands of dollars worth of plants being wasted just because people don’t care and just walk over the plants.”
Marketing coordinator Meredith Bard said UNT’s sustainability has gained the attention of many publications around the country, including the “Princeton Review’s Guide to 322 Green Colleges.”
She also hopes UNT students will get more involved in taking care of campus, which was one of the requirements for Tree Campus USA.
“UNT students have an opportunity to spearhead sustainability projects on campus by proposing green ideas to the We Mean Green Fund,” she said.
Bard also said the majority of plants on campus are able to withstand the extreme weather conditions of Texas.
“Using native plant species on campus assists in conserving water on campus and also reduces the amount of fertilizers necessary because they don’t have to adapt to the regional environment,” Bard said.
Assistant vice president for facilities David Reynolds said that he has high hopes for a future UNT tree-care plan.
“We hope that one day people will be using maps to search for and look at the trees on campus and know the different types of trees on campus,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds also anticipates people around UNT, especially students, will participate in this year’s Arbor Day on April 25.
“It’s an honor to be included in Tree Campus USA,” he said. “It shows the dedication of the grounds people and the students through the We Mean Green Fund.”
Feature photo: UNT has just been named a Tree Campus USA for the sixth year. Although the brisk weather is keeping a lot of trees dormant, there are still nice green spots around campus. Photo by Dana Pisciottano / Intern Photographer