Mississippi State University and its leaders earned national recognition recently for promoting and maintaining healthy trees and inspiring faculty, staff, students and community members to conserve.
The Arbor Day Foundation named the university a Tree Campus USA. The program honors campuses that implement proper urban forestry management principles and promote environmental stewardship.
"We are a land grant university, and this honor is really representative of our purpose to educate the people of our state about good stewardship of our natural resources," said Jason Gordon, assistant Extension professor in MSU's Forest and Wildlife Research Center and chair of the Campus Tree Advisory Committee.
Gordon is one of ten committee members who study, plan and coordinate campus tree planting and maintenance. The committee consists of three Extension personnel, two teaching faculty, two members of MSU's Campus Landscape and Facilities Management Departments and three forestry students, one of whom holds the vice-chair position.
"A lot of time, money and effort goes into the campus landscape, and it is really great to be recognized for the hard work that it takes to maintain our beautiful campus," Gordon said. "Our trees and other landscape features help make people proud to work and study here and be members of the university community. We also want visitors to be wowed when they come to campus."
Universities and colleges apply for recognition through the Arbor Day Foundation. They must meet five core standards to qualify for the designation, including evidence of a campus tree-care plan, dedicated funding for a campus tree program, an Arbor Day observance and sponsorship of student service-learning projects.
MSU will receive official recognition from the Arbor Day Foundation during the Mississippi Urban Forest Council conference in October. Gordon said the committee plans to hold a small ceremony in April to recognize the efforts of the three student committee members who will graduate in May.
Delta State University, the University of Southern Mississippi and Jackson State University are also Tree Campus USA universities.
For more information about Tree Campus USA, visit www.arborday.org/programs/treecampususa.