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Arbor Day Foundation Recognizes ODU’s Environmental Stewardship with ‘Tree Campus’ Designation

Campus Love

Old Dominion University is located squarely in a major metropolitan area. But a stroll around campus reveals that ODU is more than buildings, concrete and pavement. Many quiet spaces around campus are lush with greenery.

"What people might not realize about ODU's urban location is that we are a campus with a burgeoning urban forest and an abundance of flora and fauna within a city location," said Chad Peevy, ODU grounds manager.

In recognition of this little-known fact, and the efforts of workers in the ODU grounds department, the university applied to be designated a "Tree Campus" through the national Arbor Day Foundation's Tree Campus USA program.

The good news arrived this month.

Peevy, a certified arborist, was notified of the recognition in a letter from Mary Widhelm, program manager with the Arbor Day Foundation.

"Your entire campus community should be proud of this sustained commitment to environmental stewardship," Widhelm wrote.

A college or university earns a Tree Campus USA designation by managing its resource of campus trees, developing connectivity beyond campus borders to foster healthy, urban forests, and by striving to engage its student population to provide learning opportunities centered on campus and community forestry efforts.

Peevy said many faculty members, students and staff are already aware of the treasure trove of greenery on the campus. "Being designated as a 'Tree Campus USA' will help with that recognition, that ODU is a place where people can come to appreciate nature," he said.

To be considered as a candidate for Tree Campus USA, ODU needed to create a campus tree committee, document annual expenditures toward its urban forest, create a campus tree plan, hold an official Arbor Day celebration and perform a service-learning project.

As part of Blue Goes Green week next month, the ODU community will hold an Arbor Day celebration on April 20, when volunteers will plant trees all over campus. Peevy said that diligence is key for ODU to continue to be recognized as a Tree Campus.

"This was just to get our foot in the door. Now that we have been recognized as a Tree Campus, it is incumbent upon us to maintain that status," Peevy said.

The Arbor Day Foundation was impressed with the efforts of ODU. "Your diligence in improving the environment and quality of life at Old Dominion University contributes to a healthier, more sustainable world for us all," Widhelm wrote.

To participate in the Arbor Day event on April 20, sponsored by the ODU grounds department and the Center for Service and Civic Engagement, contact volunteer@odu.edu.