ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. — St. Bonaventure University has earned Tree Campus USA recognition for 2010, capping a year-long effort to demonstrate its commitment to promoting healthy management of its campus forests and engaging the campus community in that effort.
Launched in 2008 by the nonprofit Arbor Day Foundation, Tree Campus USA recognizes colleges and universities that annually meet program standards aimed at creating a more environmentally friendly and aesthetically pleasing campus, and instilling pride in the campus community.
“By encouraging its students to plant trees and participate in service that will help the environment, St. Bonaventure is making a positive impact on its community that will last for decades,” said John Rosenow, chief executive and founder of the Arbor Day Foundation.
The designation means St. Bonaventure meets Tree Campus USA’s five core standards of tree care and community engagement: establishing a campus tree advisory committee; evidence of a campus tree-care plan; dedicated annual expenditures on a tree-care plan; involvement in an Arbor Day observance; and the institution of a service-learning project that engages the student body.
It was a student who set the Tree Campus USA wheels in motion at St. Bonaventure. David Sine was a senior business administration student and vice president of student government last year when he started looking into the program.
“I’m a member of the Arbor Day Foundation and a big fan of the social and economic benefits that result from environmental stewardship,” said Sine, a graduate MBA student at St. Bonaventure this year.
“I was looking at some of the schools in the Tree Campus USA program and got to thinking that we have acres and acres of beautiful trees at St. Bonaventure, and that they make the campus what it is. It also seemed that the university was already doing a lot of what the Tree Campus USA program calls for, that it is part of our Franciscan tradition, so I thought we should formalize it and get the recognition.”
University administrators agreed that it was a good fit, said Rob Hurlburt, associate director of facilities for maintenance at St. Bonaventure.
“We were very receptive to the idea,” said Hurlburt. “The program’s emphasis on caring for trees and the environment, and the service learning component really fit nicely with initiatives of the university’s Sustainability Commission.” A commission member, Hurlburt spearheaded the Tree Campus USA application effort, coordinating the year-long documentation process leading up to submission of the application in December.
He worked closely with another Sustainability Commission member, Philip Winger, associate vice president for facilities at St. Bonaventure. Winger said the university has long practiced a “close-to-nature” landscape philosophy integrated with the university’s Franciscan heritage. St. Francis, the patron saint of ecology, saw himself as a caretaker of the environment, not as a master over it.
“The appearance of our campus landscape is no accident,” said Winger. “Over the years a groundskeeping tradition has evolved that favors a seamless transition from the hills, through the natural woods along the Allegheny River, to park trees and lawns, and on to the built environment of our campus. A dedicated staff of six groundskeepers serves as the stewards of this tradition.”
As a Tree Campus USA university, St. Bonaventure will receive recognition and promotional materials from the Arbor Day Foundation. The university is among only about 100 campuses to have received the designation since the program began in 2008.
"To be included in that relatively small number is noteworthy,” said Hurlburt. “We plan to keep the Tree Campus Advisory Committee together and to submit the recertification application annually in an effort to try to keep this going for years to come.”
Tree Campus USA, modeled after the Arbor Day Foundation’s successful Tree City USA program, is supported by a generous grant from Toyota.
About the University: Inspired for more than 150 years by the Franciscan values of individual dignity, community inclusiveness, and service, St. Bonaventure University cultivates graduates who are confident and creative communicators, collaborative leaders and team members, and innovative problem solvers who are respectful of themselves, others, and the diverse world around them. No wonder U.S. News and World Report has for years considered us a “Great School at a Great Price.”