By Amanda Murayama, Staff Writer
Towson University celebrated Arbor Day Friday by hosting a ceremonial tree planting on Cook Library’s Beach in honor of becoming a Tree Campus USA and being designated as a Maryland People Loving and Nurturing Trees (PLANT) member.
Towson was made a part of Tree Campus USA by The Arbor Day Foundation after successfully completing the application process that demonstrated the campus’s commitment to planting and caring for trees. The Department of Natural Resources, in partnership with The Maryland Urban and Community Forestry Committee of the Maryland Forestry Boards, awarded Towson the PLANT award for it’s care of trees.
Chris Smith, from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Forest Service, presented the awards.
The Glen Board of Directors, with the help of landscape services, organized the celebration. Arbor Day is a holiday that was designated in the 1800s to celebrate trees and recognize the importance of planting them. Today, the holiday is celebrated worldwide to recognize the many environmental and physiological benefits of trees.
Trees reduce the erosion of topsoil, provide shade, cut heating and cooling costs, moderate the temperature, clean the air, produce oxygen and provide habitat for wildlife.
“I also think trees can do things, not aesthetically but kind of for your inner piece,” said Daija Odom, senior at Towson and employee in the Office of Sustainability. “I don’t know, walking around this campus can make me happy at times and looking up at the trees and just seeing things.”
The ceremonial tree planted is a Princeton variety of the American Elm. A lot of American Elms died as a result of the Dutch Elm disease, but the Princeton variety was able to survive during that period.
“The Princeton tree is very special because I don’t know if most people know about the Dutch Elm disease that took out a lot of elms all over the country and the Princeton variety of this tree was one of the trees that lasted through that whole deal with all the trees dying,” said Donna Anderson, Landscape Services Manager. “So we are very fortunate to have this variety here today and we hope that we’ll have very many more.”
According to Assistant Director of Sustainability Patricia Watson, Arbor Day holds value at Towson because of the attention it brings to environmental action.
“Arbor Day is important to the university I think just the acknowledgement of the environmental benefits of trees is something that we need to pay more attention to,” said Watson. “We need to value our natural spaces and we need to see them as coexisting with the development of the campus.”
Kincade Stirek, Graduate Assistant for Civic Engagement at the Office of Civic Engagement and Social Responsibility, heard about the event through his office who partners with The Office of Sustainability.
“I wanted to come and support The Office of Sustainability and kind of represent my office as well,” Stirek said. “And I’m an environmental science major, so of course I love the environment. I love seeing trees get planted.”
The planting day that went along with the ceremony was postponed to May 10 in The Glen Arboretum. The Glen Arboretum is 10 acres of land behind the science building that acts as an outdoor classroom and laboratory.
Watson is looking forward to increasing student involvement in future Arbor Days.
“Engaging more students in the process and the celebration and I think working on the programming side with Civic Engagement and Social Responsibility to really develop core opportunities for students to go and plant trees, not only on campus but also off campus,” Watson said. “And then hopefully having our community, our whole community, reap the environmental benefits of those, so that’s really something I’m looking forward to.”