A top-notch forestry program and renowned College of Natural Resources have helped put Stevens Point on the map. The Arbor Day Foundation has nominated the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point as a Tree Campus USA, an honor given to colleges and universities that meet standards for healthy urban forests.
The five standards every Tree Campus USA must meet include a campus tree advisory committee, campus tree care plan, tree program with dedicated expenditures, Arbor Day observance and a service learning project.
UWSP has met each standard thanks to work done by students and faculty. A campus tree care plan prepared in 2010 helped align UWSP with Tree Campus USA standards. The university first received Tree Campus recognition in 2011.
According to the purpose section of the plan, the underlining mission of the university is, “to maintain a safe and diverse urban tree population that is sustainable and a visual and ecological foundation that is an integral part of the campus infrastructure.”
Dr. Les Werner, associate professor of urban forestry, was involved with the plan and explained how this recognition is unique.
“There are not too many of them in the country,” Werner said in regard to the amount of schools that receive Tree Campus recognition.
Werner said UWSP is currently one of only four schools in Wisconsin to receive the honor. UW Oshkosh, UW Fox Valley and Western Technical College were named Tree Campuses in 2014.
UWSP owes much of the honor to urban forestry students and the Student Society of Arboriculture.
“We do a lot of actual work with trees on campus,” said SSA President Patrick Conrad.
Conrad explained how SSA works toward improving the urban forest environment on campus by leading projects like tree climbing and pruning, tree planting and an annual campus tree inventory.
Reid Hundertmark, SSA pruning coordinator, said the group works with the university’s grounds personnel to keep trees healthy and hazard-free by climbing into them with ropes and cutting branches.
“The main emphasis for first semester is building clearance,” Hundertmark said. “If the tree is too dangerous for us, they will have other guys come in.”
According to Conrad, students involved with the club are able to check out climbing and pruning equipment from the CNR stockroom, a unique benefit that gives students hands-on experience.
SSA also focuses on working with faculty and professionals who help teach students skills they need to not only improve the campus forest, but also urban forests they may encounter after graduating.
“We get to work with great faculty members,” Conrad said. “They bring a lot of experience.”