Tree project could lead campus organization to national recognition

Posted on 30 April 2017 at 3:00pm

COLUMBIA – A campus organization known as Sustain Mizzou could help the University of Missouri earn its first "Tree Campus USA" designation.

Tree Campus USA is an environmental program created by the Arbor Day Foundation in 2008. More than 200 colleges received national honors last year, including nine from the state of Missouri.

“Tree Campus USA recognition is definitely going to spark interest and community involvement,” Sustain Mizzou president Megan Tyminski said. “Trees are really important, and they help signify sustainability in a tangible way because these trees will be here long past we are.”

On April 21, Sustain Mizzou members participated in a tree-planting project in an area formerly known as University Village. Forest ReLeaf of Missouri, a local organization dedicated to conservation efforts, provided eight native trees of different species for people to plant.

The project originated as part of MU’s Sustainability Week from April 17-21. Sustain Mizzou also organized a three-day electronic waste drive in the same week.

The project will help the group meet one of five requirements to apply as a Tree Campus USA nominee. Mizzou Botanic Garden will develop an advisory committee, care plan and annual expenditures as part of other requirements.

Sustain Mizzou met another requirement to help MU apply for Tree Campus USA honors when members gave a speech in observance of Arbor Day on April 28. Members of Mizzou Botanic Garden planted an elm tree on MU campus following the speech.

Danielle Fox, community conservationist for the City of Columbia, thinks the efforts of both groups have also helped the city consider more research for tree planting and restoration.

“We collaborate a lot with different departments in the city, but as well as Mizzou’s campus to promote native plants,” Fox said. “The goal is to bring back our habitat, not only for wildlife, but also for people to have more natural experiences in our urban areas.”

The city will restore one part of the MKT trail that lost vegetation to the Flat Branch Sewer Project. Fox said the project would involve hundreds of native trees, in addition to new shrubs and native grasses.

“We’re going to put back native trees and native grasses on top of the sewer line,” Fox said. “We’re learning more about how to rehabilitate our urban areas so that they’re a more natural landscape.”

Tyminski, who is also an intern with Mizzou Botanic Garden, thinks Tree Campus USA recognition could enrich the environment of Columbia. The city has earned Tree City USA recognition through the Arbor Day Foundation for 19 straight years, according to Fox. 

“Building communities where you incorporate the environment and social issues really says a lot about the community you live in,” Tyminski said. “There are definitely a lot of hands in the table now trying to make sure the trees are put in the ground and we have habitat out there."

Sustain Mizzou and Mizzou Botanic Garden will review information to help the university officially apply for Tree Campus USA affiliation in the fall.