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Georgia Southern receives Tree Campus Higher Education recognition from Arbor Day Foundation

Robert Seamans presents President Kyle Marrero and VP for Student Affairs Shay Little with Tree Campus Higher Education plaques.

Thanks to a collaboration among students, faculty and staff, Georgia Southern University’s Statesboro Campus and Armstrong Campus in Savannah have been recognized for the first time in the Tree Campus Higher Education program through the National Arbor Day Foundation.

Special guest Robert Seamans, southeast urban community forester with the Georgia Forestry Commission, presented President Kyle Marrero with the plaques indicating the recognition during the University’s annual Arbor Day celebration on Feb. 18.

“No matter where you’re from, trees and green space are an integral part of the college experience,” Seamans said. “They make campus more liveable, healthy and beautiful, benefiting students and the environment as a whole. Tree Campus Higher Education was founded in 2008 to foster that tradition of excellence. Earning this demonstrates to students, faculty, staff and peer institutions that Georgia Southern University values its campuses.”

Tommy Pudil, graduate assistant at Georgia Southern’s Botanic Garden, adds that events like this also bring value by reminding students that they can make a difference in the environment no matter where they are.

Students Sydney Smith and Tommy Pudil

“It’s important to take care of the earth, absolutely, but it’s easiest to start with the area you’re in,” Pudil said. “You don’t need to do something that’s super complicated. It can start right here in your own backyard. You’re on campus every day. You see this every day. You can take care of it too.”

Marrero spoke briefly about the beauty of the campuses before signing a proclamation declaring the third Friday in February as Georgia Southern Arbor Day.

“We’ve known how beautiful this campus and our Armstrong campus are,” Marrero said. “It is a glorious, beautiful place, and one that I and my family fell in love with the minute we were able to step on these wonderful grounds. I’m so proud that we have earned this recognition.”

To be eligible for the Tree Campus Higher Education recognition, each university campus must meet guidelines including establishing a campus tree advisory committee, providing evidence of a campus tree care plan, providing verification of a plan’s dedicated annual expenditures, observing Arbor Day, and creating a service-learning project aimed at engaging the student body. Many of these tasks were led by Sustain Southern.

Vice President for Student Affairs Shay Little, Ph.D., spoke at the celebration about the importance of Sustain Southern and the efforts of many divisions throughout the University to realize its sustainability efforts.

“The division of Student Affairs is proud to be the home of Sustain Southern, whose initiatives foster many opportunities for students to get involved in sustainability on campus,” Little said. “The full vision of Sustain Southern cannot be realized without critical partnerships with our colleagues in Facilities Services, in Academic Affairs, in Marketing and Communications, and a host of other units that not only provide sustainability-related education on campus, but also provide opportunities for our students to get involved in sustainability efforts first hand.”

Sarah Beth Waller is a freshman studying biology and environmental studies. She brought a few friends with her to the Arbor Day celebration on the Armstrong Campus and was excited to see them get their hands in the dirt while planting 12 new trees.

“My friends are not used to this kind of stuff, but they were meeting new people and digging in the ground and that’s just so good,” Waller said. “I think it’s really important that we as a university are taking action to be environmentally friendly. One of the things I love so much about this campus is the abundance of greenery. It’s incredible being around all of this nature and knowing what it is, who planted it and the work that went into it.”

Students on the Armstrong Campus in Savannah work together to plant a tree.

Sophomore and Georgia Southern Eco-Advocates president Bryce Bermudez participated in the tree-planting event on the Armstrong Campus and looks forward to future generations seeing the trees on campus.

“It’s going to be awesome to come back years from now and see these trees we planted,” Bermudez said. “That’s something future Eco-Advocate members can look at and think, ‘Wow! The people who started this really worked to make this campus a beautiful place.’”


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