Centre College named Tree Campus USA for fourth year

Posted by Centre News in Campus, News, Sustainable Centre 12 Feb 2014

For the fourth year running, Centre College has been named a Tree Campus USA by the Arbor Day Foundation.

The Tree Campus USA program was established by the Arbor Day Foundation and Toyota Motor Corporation in 2008. The goal of the program is to help colleges and universities establish and sustain healthy community forests.

Centre earned its 2014 Tree Campus USA designation by meeting the five required standards: maintaining a tree advisory committee; sustaining a care plan for trees on campus; dedicating annual expenditures towards tree care; observing Arbor Day; and supporting student service-learning projects.

First Lady Susie Roush (pictured right), an ardent arborist, has participated in many different tree-related activities on campus, both removal of old or dead trees and planting of new ones to replace them. Her knowledge of the leafier residents of campus borders on encyclopedic as she rattles off species and locations around campus.

roush_susie_treeplanting“The giant sycamore in Sinking Spring was probably nearing the 150 year mark when it fell,” she explains. “It was replaced with a beautiful youngster about four inches in diameter. A lovely tulip poplar was also planted near Sinking Spring in memory of Dr. Bruce White.”

Roush also mentions the recent planting of a copper beech tree near Centre’s Lincoln statue (a nod to the 16th president’s fondness for the variety) by the men of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity and four new trees freshly installed at the South Fields.

When asked about her favorite tree on campus, Roush cannot name just one; instead, she sees the College’s urban forest filled with a cast of characters who have been privy to some of the College’s biggest and brightest moments.

“The old elm that stands guard at the entrance to campus on the corner of Maple and Main is most likely old enough to have seen the area’s young men go forth and return from the Civil War,” Roush says. “The old red oak between Crounse and Sutcliffe Halls along the walk to the football stadium was most certainly an observer of the 1921 football team.”

She also names numerous trees given as gifts by alumni, including David Ray ’59, John Barton ’79 and Marlene and David Grissom ’60. In 2012, the Grissoms created an endowment  in the First Lady’s honor called the Susie Roush Beautification Fund. In 2013, alumni Ed and Judy Stanley donated three bur oaks to the College that they started from acorns. Roush is particularly grateful to John C. Walkup Professor of Chemistry Preston Miles for his leading role in securing the College’s multiple Tree Campus USA designations.

Ultimately, the Tree Campus USA designation recognizes the hard work and dedication of Centre’s grounds crew, staff, faculty, alumni and students to keep a hallmark of Centre’s campus thriving.

Indeed, for Roush, one of the most important reasons to care for and maintain the College’s trees is because “trees on our campus provide a connecting bond between generations of Centre students.”

Learn more about sustainability at Centre.

Arbor Day Foundation is a million member nonprofit conservation and education organization with the mission to inspire people to plant, nurture and celebrate trees. More information is available at arborday.org.

By Mariel Smith

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