IU has earned a 2019 Tree Campus USA recognition from the Arbor Day Foundation, an award given to colleges that meet the organization's five standards. IU has been recognized every year since the inaugural year in 2008.
The Arbor Day Foundation is a nonprofit organization that advocates for the planting and care of trees. Its five standards are upholding a tree advisory committee, campus tree care planning, dedicated annual expenditures for the campus tree program, having an Arbor Day of observance and provide a service learning project.
“Tree Campus USA encourages colleges and universities to make a positive impact on their student, staff and environmental footprint through trees,” Arbor Day Foundation spokesperson Jennifer Hallaman said. “Green spaces give students and faculty a setting to relax outdoors, and trees can significantly reduce the amount of energy that a campus needs to generate.”
Purdue University, Butler University, Indiana State University and Franklin College were among other Indiana colleges that earned the 2019 Tree Campus USA recognition.
Burnell Fischer, a professor emeritus in the O'Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs, said he has encouraged IU to meet the standards set in place by the Arbor Day Foundation to achieve the recognition since the first year. He said he wanted to do this to show that IU is recognizing the standards put into place by the Arbor Day Foundation.
Fischer was one of the members of the original committee that designed the Tree Campus USA program for the Arbor Day Foundation.
He said the Arbor Day Foundation wanted to modify the Tree City USA standards to make them realistic for campuses to achieve the recognition and it wanted to expand its outreach, so it began targeting campuses.
“While we were putting those standards together, I was talking to people at IU,” Fischer said. “We didn’t meet all of these standards yet, but we could very easily, so I just encouraged IU to get up to speed so that the first year they could be a Tree Campus USA.”
He now leads the Bloomington Urban Forestry Research Group, a research lab that is made up of students and other faculty members.
He said it was established about eight years ago. They research a variety of things, one of which being patches of forest in urban areas, such as Bloomington.
Stephanie Freeman-Day, a Ph.D. student studying environmental science, works with Fischer in the Bloomington Urban Forestry Research Group. She said she got involved with the group because she took Fischer's urban forest management class.
“I really enjoyed the course, so I’ve been with him since fall of 2018,” Freeman-Day said.
Freeman-Day said that she is working on a project examining urban forest patches on IU’s campus for the Urban Forestry Research Group. She said the group is interested in the preservation of existing patches of forest on IU’s campus.
“I think the recognition is great,” Freeman-Day said of the Tree Campus USA recognition. “I think IU serves as a leader for other universities around the state to be doing things like that.”