Wheaton recognized as a tree campus in time for spring

The Arbor Day Foundation recognized Wheaton College as a “Tree Campus” on March 10. Landscape Operations Manager Theresa Kyriazes and Wheaton’s Campus Tree Committee began efforts to qualify Wheaton’s campus about a year ago. Wheaton is one of about 300 campuses in the U.S. with tree campus recognition.
In order to be certified as a tree campus, a school must meet five standards. It must have a campus tree advisory composed of students, faculty, facility management and community members, a campus tree care plan, a program allocating expenditures to carry out the care plan, host an event recognizing Arbor Day and initiate an annual service learning project.
Wheaton had already met most of these requirements, having a tree care plan in place, the Campus Tree Committee, a budget and service learning projects. In continuing efforts to “provide education, beautification, diversification and relaxation to the college campus community and neighbors,” as the Landscape Operations Department vision statement reads, there are several initiatives in progress. Landscape Operations and the Campus Tree Committee will collect and share arbor data using a Geographic Information System (GIS) of campus trees, already began labelling trees around campus and will continue to teach students in the community about trees and how to care for them.
According to Kyriazes, Wheaton’s status as a tree campus is, “a way to recognize that we care about our plants, we take care of them properly, we have quite a diverse population and we do spend time and money making sure they are healthy.”
In coordination with the Campus Tree Committee and as a part of his work with Young Evangelicals for Climate Action (YECA), junior Sean Lyon is currently working on a walking tour of the trees on Blanchard Lawn that he hopes, “will showcase the variety of trees that Wheaton’s campus contains and will allow the whole community — students, staff, faculty, visitors and alumni — to appreciate God’s creation in a meaningful way.” The tour is still in the works, but will be ready later this spring.
According to sophomore Thea Boatwright, a member of the Campus Tree Committee, the labels popping up on trees around campus show just how many different kinds of trees Wheaton’s campus has.
Becoming a tree campus is one small step down the path toward arboretum accreditation. While it is not necessary to be a tree campus to achieve arboretum status, both classifications have similar requirements. The end goal, Kyriazes explained, is for Wheaton to be classified as a level two arboretum. Level two arboretums have at least 100 species or varieties of trees or woody plants growing on the property as part of an arboretum plan that are labelled taxonomically, Wheaton already has well over 100 varieties of trees and Landscape Operations is currently working on labelling them in hopes of gradually meeting the requirements to be a level two arboretum.
While Wheaton’s recognition as a tree campus does not represent any significant changes in how Wheaton cares for the environment, Kyriazes noted that it does signal Wheaton’s priority for stewardship of the environment. “We respect God’s creation, we love it and we want to do the best we can to protect and nurture it. This is just an outward expression of our inward selves.”
As a part of the annual service learning project and in order to celebrate Arbor Day, April 28, Landscape Operations members of the Campus Tree Committee will plant a shagbark hickory tree on campus, and students and faculty on the committee will provide scripture and poetry.

Leave a Reply