Fort Myers, Fla. (Jan. 20, 2011) – Florida Gulf Coast University was granted 40 trees and the coveted Tree Campus USA designation from the Arbor Day Foundation and Toyota this morning, in celebration of the university's commitment to tree care and sustainability.
Florida Gulf Coast University is one of four Tree Campus USA participants hosting a tree-planting event during late 2011 and early 2012. The Tree Campus USA program honors colleges and universities promoting healthy urban forest management and engaging the campus community in environmental stewardship. The program has been supported by a generous grant from Toyota since its inception.
Following the ceremony this morning, students and volunteers from the University and Arbor Day Foundation planted the 40 trees on the Library Lawn.
"Being recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation as a Tree Campus USA makes me so proud," said Florida Gulf Coast University student Keishla Negron, whose enthusiastic emails and pictures helped the school earn Tree Campus USA recognition. "Our school is being recognized as an integral part of a nationwide initiative, in which trees symbolize the collaborative efforts of the Florida Gulf Coast University community to enhance urban environments and to continue our commitment to environmental sustainability."
Investment in the program from the local Florida Urban Forestry Council was also crucial to the award. The Council's promotion has helped to secure at least three Tree Campuses, with five additional schools now actively working toward the requirements.
"Overall, trees enhance the quality of a college campus environment," said Charlie Marcus, who serves on the Florida Urban Forestry Council's executive committee as the Florida Forest Service liaison. "Tree Campus USA recognizes colleges making a deliberate effort to optimize the ecosystem services that their campus trees provide to the university community, as well as engage the students, faculty, staff, and local residents who comprise that community in the care of those trees."
To earn Tree Campus USA recognition, a school must meet five core standards of tree care and community engagement: 1) Establish a campus tree advisory committee; 2) Provide evidence of a campus tree-care plan; 3) Maintain dedicated annual expenditures toward the campus tree-care plan; 4) Celebrate Arbor Day; and 5) Organize a service-learning project aimed at engaging the student body.
More information about the Tree Campus USA program is available at www.arborday.org/TreeCampusUSA. For more information on the Florida Urban Forestry Council, visit www.fufc.org.