By Sherry DiBari

Old Dominion University recently earned the Tree Campus Higher Education designation from the Arbor Day Foundation, joining nine other higher educational institutions in Virginia with this distinction.

ODU has been a consistent recipient of the Tree Campus Higher Education honor since 2013.

The program honors colleges and universities and their leaders for promoting healthy trees and engaging students and staff in the spirit of conservation.

"Being a Tree Campus Higher Education acknowledges not only ODU's position as a leading institution, but the professionalism of our maintenance staff, the awareness of our students and the impact of our faculty and researchers," said Chad Peevy, ODU's assistant director of grounds and landscapes.

For the recognition, the University met five core standards for sustainable campus forestry, including establishment of a tree advisory committee, evidence of a campus tree care plan, dedicated annual expenditures for the campus tree program, an Arbor Day observance and sponsorship of student service-learning projects.

"If ever there was a time for trees, now is that time," wrote Lauren Weyers, program manager for the Arbor Day Foundation. "Your diligence in improving the environment and quality of life at your school contributes to a healthier, more sustainable world for us all."

There more than 4,000 trees on ODU's campus. The variety of species, placement of those trees and timing of blooms is no coincidence.

"The ODU urban forest is not just for beauty anymore, it is intentional," Peevy said. "For example, we plant trees to save energy in our buildings, use certain species to filter and retain stormwater and/or sequester carbon, and create location-specific gardens to improve physical or mental wellbeing."

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