Tree Plantings Celebrate Earth Day

Trees donated by the Arbor Day Foundation and a local tree nursery will be planted around campus Friday.



Photo by Beti Gathegi

By Daylina Miller

USF News


TAMPA, Fla. (April 20, 2012) – The University of South Florida Friday is hosting a colossal tree-planting event in honor of the upcoming Earth Day on Sunday and USF’s designation as a National Tree Campus USA by the Arbor Day Foundation.


The first 250 of 1,000 Live Oak Trees donated by Huntsmen Tree Supplier and 50 Bald Cypress trees donated by the Arbor Day Foundation will be planted starting at 10 a.m., followed by a dedication ceremony at 1:30 p.m. at the Patel Center for Global Solutions.


Plaques will be dedicated to USF President Judy Genshaft for her sustainability efforts, in memory of Provost Ralph Wilcox’s late wife, Barbara Wilcox, and to the Arbor Day Foundation.


“It has brought an awful lot of people from different areas who really believe in campus greening and the legacy the trees provide,” said Sharon Hanna-West, who is organizing the tree-planting event and is an instructor in USF’s College of Business and a lawyer specializing in environmental law. “Now students can walk in between buildings in shaded areas and before it was brutal. The sun was terrible.”


In addition to the tree donations and the interdisciplinary volunteer efforts of numerous departments on campus, some funding to plant the trees comes from a fundraising campaign by the USF student group, Net Impact, which asked everyone to 'give a dollar to plant a tree.'


Additional funding comes from the Office of Sustainability and from funds generated during previous sustainability conferences and events. Facilities Planning and Construction, as well as Physical Plant, donated lots of time and energy to this as well, said Christian Wells, director of the Office of Sustainability at USF.


Hanna-West said the Tree Campus USA designation was initiated by former student and director of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, Manitia Moultrie.


The Cypress trees are being planted in and around four storm water retention ponds on campus, including the one by the Patel Center. The Live Oaks are being planted in groups at eight different locations throughout campus, including MLK plaza and at various spots along Alumni Drive.


“Our trees at USF improve air quality by sequestering carbon, cool the temperature on campus, prevent soil erosion, help create and support wildlife habitats, and encourage alternative forms of transportation, among other benefits,” Wells said.


“Consistent with the university's mission as a teaching institution, trees also constitute a valuable instructional resource that promotes environmental and climate literacy. With more trees, we can create a sustainable campus environment that facilities student success, creates a sense of place for USF students and employees, and provides opportunities for active and passive recreation,” said Wells.


Though this is a widespread continuation of efforts to “green up the campus,”  “there are still areas that need trees and some areas we need to start planting new, baby trees because some of our original trees are aging,” Hanna-West said.


Daylina Miller can be reached at 813-500-8754.