Planting trees on campus brings benefits
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(BOWIE, Md.) – Sometimes you have to get your hands dirty – literally and figuratively – to learn important lessons. Some students at Bowie State University learned this while attending the university’s Earth Week activities late last month.
BSU’s Arbor Day Tree Planting brought the university closer to becoming a member of the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree Campus Higher Education program to earn national recognition for its commitment to trees as a solution to global challenges, including climate change.
Tree Campus Higher Education has recognized green colleges and universities since 2008. To date, there are 392 recognized Tree campuses. BSU will be among the early adopters within the Maryland HBCU community, along with Morgan State and UMES, who are also looking to apply for membership.
BSU and its partners at the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay hosted the Arbor Day Tree Planting as part of the Peace Park revitalization on campus. The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving land and water throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
More than 35 volunteers planted six native trees that provide important air and water quality benefits, sequester carbon (a process that can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere), and serve as habitat for wildlife and pollinators. The trees were planted on the Peace Plot, a space designed by the BSU Student Government Association in 2007 to commemorate the tragic death of a student on campus.
Others, including Maryland gubernatorial candidate John King, were on hand to support and celebrate tree planting and the university’s bid to become a tree campus; Campaign members were among the volunteers.
“This year marked Arbor Day’s 150th anniversary, and the Maryland Forest Service wanted Bowie State, as well as the other historically black colleges and universities in Maryland, to celebrate this wonderful day by planting a tree,” said Marian Honeczy, Chair by Urban & Community Forestry for the Maryland Forest Service, Department of Natural Resources, who attended the event.
“Bowie State beat the rest by planting six trees on campus,” Honeczy said. She found that trees are an extremely important and cost-effective solution to multiple concerns. “Trees provide shade and reduce the heat island effect, can clean the air and reduce asthma rates, and help with climate change. All it takes is for everyone to plant a tree.”
Aside from the environmental benefits, tree planting was also a service learning opportunity for students who helped green and beautify their campus.
“This tree planting was part of a multi-year partnership between Allianz and BSU focused on providing students with opportunities for hands-on and meaningful experiences that build connections between them and their local communities,” said Jenny McGarvey, Alliance Capacity Building Initiative Director. She added that the Alliance hopes actions like this will “inspire BSU students to become the next generation of stewards who champion trees and clean water in their communities, and encourage them to pursue careers in the environmental field. “
BSU sustainability and energy coordinator Jabari S. Walker agrees on the benefits of the event.
“Sometimes you learn more about environmental sustainability by being hands-on outside than in the classroom,” he said.
“This was a learning experience where our students and volunteers had the opportunity to learn about the proper digging and tree planting process as well as the types of trees we planted. Most of our students had never planted trees before,” Walker said. “It was also a welcome break from the classroom and the virtual environment to get out, get our hands a little dirty, enjoy the great outdoors, enjoy each other and help the surrounding natural environment.”
About Bowie State University
Bowie State University (BSU) is a major college entry portal for qualified individuals from diverse academic and socioeconomic backgrounds seeking a quality and affordable full-service public university. The university places special emphasis on the disciplines of natural sciences, technology, cyber security, teacher training, business and nursing as part of a liberal arts education. For more information about BSU, visit bowiestate.edu.