Belmont’s campus became a little greener Friday morning as President Bob Fisher led a small ceremony to mark the university being named a Tree Campus USA.
Fisher, along with members of Belmont’s Tree Advisory Committee and the student-run Environmental Conservation Organization Club, symbolically poured dirt onto the recently-planted blue spruce tree with a ceremonial shovel in front of Dickens Hall.
The event also commemorated Tennessee’s Arbor Day, which is celebrated the first Friday of March.
Tree Campus USA is a program headed by the Arbor Day Foundation. A campus must meet five standards in order to be recognized by the program, according to the foundation’s website.
These include having a campus tree advisory committee, a campus tree care plan, a campus tree program with dedicated annual expenditures, Arbor Day observance and a service learning project.
Belmont is already an arboretum, and the Tree Campus USA recognition shows the university understands the important aspect of trees on campus, Vice President of the ECO Club Lindsay Millward said.
“As an arboretum we’re able to label the trees so students walking around campus can educate themselves, which is really exciting” Millward said.
“Regarding this award, I think it’s really neat that Belmont is expanding in terms of appreciating sustainability and environmental awareness and I think awards like this are perfect for that.”
The Tree Advisory Committee is coordinating with university leadership on adding more green space as the campus continues to expand.
Dr. John Niedzweicki, the ECO Club’s faculty advisor, said Belmont is including the students in on this process as well.
“Over the last couple of years they’ve started the Sustainability Committee and brought the students in, and they just started the Tree Committee. They’re getting some student representation into the environmental part of the campus, so that’s been good,” he said.
Part of the expansion of green space on campus involves tearing down the Bruin Hills apartments and replacing them with new green space and trees. The tree planted Friday morning is the first in what will be a new environmental space specifically for plants native to the Nashville area.
“It will be a landscape or green space more native to our area, and just like our other green space, a place for the kids to get out and enjoy it,” Manager of Landscape and Grounds Mary Weber said.