W&J Honored by Tree Campus USA for Fourth Consecutive Year

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W&J has been honored with the Tree Campus USA® recognition by the Arbor Day Foundation for its commitment to effective urban forest management.

Old Main, Washington & Jefferson College

Old Main, Washington & Jefferson College

“It’s become more selective, which is good, because it forces us to work harder to be bigger and better than we were before." - Associate Professor of Biology Jason Kilgore, Ph.D.

Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) will continue its Arbor Day tradition of environmental excellence.

For the fourth consecutive year, W&J has been honored with the Tree Campus USA® recognition by the Arbor Day Foundation for its commitment to effective urban forest management. The college was one of only 15 institutions in Pennsylvania, a state with more than 100 two- and four-year higher learning institutions, to receive this honor, part of a national program created in 2008. Currently there are 296 campuses across the United States with this recognition.
In addition to the Tree Campus USA honor, the arboretum was awarded Level I Accreditation by The ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program and The Morton Arboretum last spring.

“I’m excited to have earned this recognition four years in a row and look forward to subsequent years of this recognition. This includes more plantings on campus, more students getting involved, more of the community getting involved and enhancing the campus arboretum and the campus landscape,” said Associate Professor of Biology Jason Kilgore, Ph.D.

Kilgore noted that it’s become increasingly more difficult to qualify for the designation over the past few years as the Arbor Day Foundation has raised its standards when examining Tree Campus USA submissions.

“It’s become more selective, which is good, because it forces us to work harder to be bigger and better than we were before,” he said.

In honor of the recognition, students in Kilgore’s Plant Diversity course will plant Quaking Aspen trees at the developing Rocky Mountain-themed grove near the W&J Admission House at 1 p.m. April 29. Kilgore and Grounds Supervisor Doston Kish chose the trees to fit the soil profile in the area. It will be the first themed grove on campus, according to Kilgore.

Washington & Jefferson College achieved the title by meeting Tree Campus USA’s five standards, which include maintaining a tree advisory committee, a campus tree-care plan, dedicated annual expenditures for its campus tree program, an Arbor Day observance, and a student service-learning project. W&J has been recognized every year it has applied for the honor.

Kilgore started W&J’s Campus Arboretum nine years ago after previously being involved with Michigan State University’s arboretum. Working with students, he created two databases identifying types of trees on campus and their location, with notes of what trees have been added and removed from the grounds.

The Campus Arboretum now encompasses the entire 85 acres of urban campus and athletic facilities. All of the nearly 1,200 trees from 83 species are recorded and evaluated, with over 930 trees bearing metal tags with accession number and family, scientific, and common names. Particularly noteworthy trees include a mature American elm, a mature willow oak, and five mature osage-oranges from an historical property line separating the College from the former Washington Female Seminary. The Arboretum Advisory Committee, consisting of members of the faculty, staff, and the community, meets twice a year to make decisions about the arboretum’s presence on campus and what progress will be made.

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Erin Jones
@wjcollege
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