GCSU named Tree Campus for Third Year


Bailey Ballard

As autumn approaches more than 1,200 trees on campus are beginning to change color. Walking
on to the main campus by East Hancock Street, there is a combination of pecan trees, southern
live oaks, and southern red oaks that tower over the students. They offer both a natural beauty,
shade, and more energy for the campus. Each of these trees were all individually picked and
planted by the tree committee.

GC has been named a tree campus by The Arbor Foundation for a third year. According to Tree
Campus Higher Education, this is a program that honors colleges and universities and requires 5
standards to be met: “a tree advisory committee, a campus tree-care plan, dedicated annual
expenditures for its campus tree program, and Arbor Day observance, and student
service-learning project.”

This title has been given to 402 colleges and universities in the U.S. to foster support and
awareness about the sustainability of trees.

“Sustainability of trees can be everything from taking carbon dioxide emissions and removing
them, trees assisting storm runoff, and solving some of those problems,” said Susan Daniels,
assistant director of facilities grounds and member of the tree committee. “They do so many
things, all different sizes of trees, for campuses and the world.”

In 2016 the tree committee was created and has grown over the last four years. The committee
currently has seven members with a requirement of at least one community member, student and
faculty member.

The tree committee created an original tree care plan. This plan dictates everything of how to
care for the trees to how to deal with trees when construction is occurring. The tree care plan acts
as the model for the committee as they plan events and care for the trees throughout the year.
The annual expense is divided by two main categories: tree planting and tree care costs and
campus tree management. The annual expenses are not reported until December, however, in
2019 the overall expense for tree planting and care was $13,370 while campus tree management
was $26,204.85.

“Volunteering with tree planting normally occurs over a two month period,” said John Whittle,
grounds supervisor and tree committee member. “There may be some trees planted actually on
Arbor Day. But it’s quite a long period of time that we have it open because it’s impossible for
everybody to participate on one day.”

Arbor Day Observance is a large formal ceremony of tree planting. People gather at the specified
location and watch a formal demonstration of a tree being planted. Dr. Doorman has been a part
of this ceremony two separate years.

The committee, however, plants trees throughout the year. According to tree committee member
Susan Daniels, the first year that the committee planted, they planted around 3,000 trees. In 2020
the committee has installed 148 trees on campus while landscaping new sites such as the Liberty
St. Parking Lot and Miller court. 10 of the 148 trees were done by students during Oct. 19
through Oct. 23 for sustainability month per request by Cameron Skinner of sustainability.
“We’ll post-planting events on the Front Page and let people know that we’ll be planting a
number of trees in a certain week,” said Cameron Skinner, sustainability assistant and member of
the tree committee. “They can email you know either grounds or the sustainability office to
register basically to get a group together and help plant a tree.”

The committee allows students to volunteer with them to plant trees to help educate and get the
students involved. In 2016, they had 138 student volunteers, 2017 they had 119 student
volunteers, in 2018 they had 93 volunteers, and 2019 they had 89 volunteers.

“We go step by step on the correct procedures on tree planting and tree care from the size of the
hole you’re supposed to dig to why you’re supposed to dig it that way and how often to water,”
said Aaron Seay, chair of the tree committee. “We educate on initial care in general and the
benefits of the trees.”

Grounds dept can and will order more trees for anyone that requests to plant a tree on GC
campus. Should groups want to plant a tree they can e-mail Susan Daniels at
[email protected]

Upcoming events for the tree committee, the “Arbor Day” celebration this fall, a tree planting
during Alumni Week in November and further opportunities throughout November and