By Cheryl Toomey, University Relations Graduate Assistant

As part of its ongoing commitment to sustainability, UTC observed Arbor Day with the planting of three new trees grown from seeds by a UTC student.

The Arbor Day tree planting was as a part of a service learning project sponsored by Beta Beta Beta, or Tri-Beta, the national undergraduate biological honor society. Students gathered to plant new trees on the greenway between the EMCS building and the Fine Arts Center. In place of a large older tree that had to be cut down recently, the group planted three one-year-old container-grown seedlings of Catalpa speciosa, the Northern Catalpa. Tim Barnhill, who graduated from UTC in 2013 with a B.S. in environmental science, grew the saplings from seed at the Fortwood Street Greenhouse while he was completing his undergraduate degree. Also planted were 17 Euonymus americanus, the “Hearts-a-Bustin”, also grown by Barnhill, which will fill in the shrub border in the landscape around the newly planted Catalpas.

Present at the event were Dr. Hill Craddock, professor of Biological and Environmental Sciences; Dr. Peggy Kovach, UTC Faculty Advisor to Tri-Beta; Chris Charland, UTC Facilities Management; Stephen McCallum, President of Beta Beta Beta, Sigma Chapter; and several student members of Tri-Beta.

UTC recognizes that trees are a vital part of campus landscaping and infrastructure. Properly placed trees create a welcoming space for students, staff, and alumni, providing much-needed relief from heat and a quiet place to reflect or study. Trees keep air and water clean and remove harmful pollutants. Trees save money by reducing energy use and improving storm water management.

Within the 120-acre campus, there are nearly 2,000 trees and woody plants represented by more than 60 species. As part of the Arboretum certification process, a specimen of each known species was labeled for public education. The heritage of the UTC urban forest includes trees that pre-date the campus.

Supported by seven full-time employees, the UTC Grounds Crew implements the goals of the Campus Tree Care Plan, as well as maintains green spaces.  This includes cleaning storm debris; seasonal pruning and tree-trimming; planting; mowing; mulching; and assessment of plant health and vitality, among many other things.

UTC was recently recognized for its dedication to the campus landscape by Tree Campus USA, a national program launched in 2008 by the Arbor Day Foundation and Toyota to honor universities for promoting healthy trees and engaging students and staff in the spirit of conservation. UTC met five criteria to obtain 2013 Tree Campus USA recognition: a tree advisory committee, a campus tree-care plan, dedicated annual expenditures for its campus tree plan, an Arbor Day observance, and a student service learning project.

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