Campus Trees

Campus Trees

Background

The Campus Trees Program of The Tree Bank Foundation brings trees and education to Oklahoma campuses. The purpose of the Campus Trees Program is to provide quality, Oklahoma-grown trees to college and university campuses to assist with replanting after recent storms, to provide environmental benefits to campuses, and to increase educational opportunities for students. Universities have benefited from the program by reducing heating and cooling costs, channeling foot traffic through open spaces, and increasing the quality and quantity of hands-on study. 2011’s participating campuses were Oklahoma City University and Oklahoma State University; follow the links below to see these projects unfold.

Funding

In 2011, the project’s funding was provided by several prominent supporters of urban forestry and The Tree Bank Foundation. Chesapeake Energy supported the program through financial contributions that purchased trees of substantial size (5-8 feet tall) and portable irrigation. Oklahoma Forestry Services and the U.S. Forest Service provided funding for project management and technical expertise from Cross Timbers Forestry. Total Environment Wholesale Nursery also made a major contribution to the project by offering discounted prices on the trees purchased for the project and by supplying trees that were substantially larger than the size ordered ( 2 ½” for 1 ¾” price). Through these generous contributions, the Campus Trees Project was a great success, and the Tree Bank Foundation did not receive any financial compensation from these donations. All of the donated funds were used to purchase trees, project supplies, and materials and to hire professional foresters to assist with the program.

Benefits

The benefits to the campuses and communities participating in the project were seen through three major avenues: the trees’ environmental contributions, the trees’ educational benefits, and the increased awareness about trees. Oklahoma universities are focusing on alternative energy and cost-saving measures; , the campus trees inherent environmental benefits of heat reduction, shade, clean air and storm water mitigation are a major component of these alternative measures. The campus trees are also living sources of learning to study tree identification, physiology and growth, and green infrastructure. Finally, and perhaps most unexpected, was the increased awareness that these projects brought to campuses and the surrounding communities. From a single campus trees planting this year, two additional trees plantings and donor campaigns were focused on a participating campus, almost doubling the trees planted this year.

Oklahoma City University Project

Oklahoma City University has undertaken major building and renovation projects over the last few years, and the landscaping on campus has become a renewed focus. OCU has developed a master plan for buildings and landscaping. Through the Campus Trees Program, sixty-one trees (1 ¾”-caliper or larger) were provided to fulfill a portion of the landscape design for the western two-thirds of campus. Trees were planted around the Freede Center, the Wanda Bass Music Building, and the Kramer School of Nursing, among others. OCU’s administration set a priority of increasing the environmentally friendly aspects of the campus, including using landscaping for temperature control in and around buildings, encouraging and channeling foot traffic on campus, and providing a green, welcoming appearance to the campus. Through the Campus Trees plantings, the project was able to focus plantings to offer the greatest gains in these focus areas. The Campus Trees Project was also instrumental in starting an extensive landscaping campaign throughout the campus. The Tree Bank’s gift of the Campus Trees spurred the development of OCU’s Native Tree Collection at the Meinders School of Business and a screening project near the physical plant on campus. These two additional projects were funded through private donations, spearheaded by the Tree Bank Foundation, and university funds, showing that projects like Campus Trees can leverage funding many times over the original value.

Oklahoma State University Project

The Oklahoma State University Forestry Program’s teaching arboretum, west of campus, is used by multiple classes each year for student investigation of trees from across the country. The arboretum, used for the study of tree identification, tree physiology and growth, and forest development, has seen the ravages of Oklahoma’s weather over the last few years, as well as mortality from old age, and is in need of replanting. The Forestry Program, a part of the Natural Resources and Environmental Management Department (NREM), planted the arboretum this spring with 38 new trees, encompassing 13 species that are currently not available for study by students. Student members of the Society of American Foresters assisted with planting, and the community was invited to see the demonstration project. The Campus Trees Project brought a first look at urban forestry for many of the students participating in the planting. OSU’s Forestry Program focuses on traditional, rural forestry but has worked to incorporate more urban aspects into the program. The Campus Trees Project was a teaching opportunity to show students the unique aspects and challenges of planting and maintaining individual trees in a city setting, offering them another perspective on future professional specialization.

Previous Campus Tree Projects:

Cameron University, Lawton
Chisholm Technology Center, Omega
Francis Tuttle Technology Center, Oklahoma City
Langston University, Langston
Metro Tech, Oklahoma City
Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College, Miami
Oklahoma Christian University, Oklahoma City
Oklahoma City Community College, Oklahoma City
Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology, Okmulgee
Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City, Oklahoma City
Redlands Community College, El Reno
Southern Nazarene University, Oklahoma City
University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond