Celebrating Arbor Day

The USF Patel College of Global Sustainability and the City of Tampa team up to mark National Arbor Day with tree planting.



Celebrating Arbor Day at USF are, (l-r) Tom Snelling of the City of Tampa, Kala Vairavamoorthy, dean Patel College of Global Sustainability, Pansy Houghton of Hillsborough County schools and Sandy Lovins, vice president of USF Administrative Services.

By Eric Weaver

Special to USF News


TAMPA, Fla. (April 17, 2013) – USF’s Patel College of Global Sustainability and the City of Tampa celebrated National Arbor Day with a special tree planting dedication ceremony Tuesday, during which the University of South Florida was recertified as a “Tree Campus USA” by the Arbor Day Foundation for a second year in a row.


The Tree Campus USA designation is bestowed on schools that meet five core standards for sustainable campus forestry: sponsoring service-learning projects; having a tree advisory committee; having a tree-care plan; observing Arbor Day; and dedicating annual expenditures for their campus tree program. In 2011 and 2012 alone, USF has planted more than 2,400 trees around campus.


The City of Tampa donated 15 trees to USF, which were planted on campus during the past two weeks. The last three trees were planted Tuesday in recognition of USF’s partnership with the city, the Hillsborough County Public Schools and its master’s students in Global Sustainability. 


Kala Vairavamoorthy, dean of the Patel College of Global Sustainability, opened the celebration by thanking the partners and proclaiming “we are preparing the next generation of sustainability leaders. These students help make us the smartest campus.”


Sandy Lovins, vice president for USF Administrative Services, said “USF is committed to being a top green university.”


Tom Snelling, green officer for the City of Tampa, said tree canopy analysis can show how a natural environment best co-exists with a built environment.


“We need this pure science framing why the trees are so important. This is one of the tools for going forward,” Snelling said.


He continued by announcing a Patel College M.A. student, Estevan Baza will be interning with the City of Tampa this summer and they look forward to learning from him.


Pansy Houghton, director of Choice and Magnet Schools with Hillsborough School District, said: “Our goal is to enhance student knowledge and awareness on issues leading to global sustainability. The partnership provides students with authentic learning experiences through guest speakers, field experiences and project based integration in lesson plans.”


Eve Spengler, a student in Global Sustainability at USF, said: “Today on Arbor Day, these efforts we make together will never be time or energy wasted, because the trees give us their energy. Trees also teach us wisdom in observation because a tree sees in all directions thus reminding us to look around and be open.” 


The USF Office of Sustainability has placed USF on the map with several important designations including an AASHE STARS Gold rating, a "Green College" designation by the Princeton Review and has been named one of the top 50 "Coolest Schools" by Sierra Magazine to name a few. 


Regarding the Arbor Day celebration, Kebreab Ghebremichael, acting director of the Office of Sustainability, said “we are honored to see USF recertified as a Tree Campus USA. To be recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation for the second year demonstrates USF’s commitment to environmental stewardship, our community, the Campus Master Plan and the Climate Action Plan.”