Hope College has been honored with 2018 Tree Campus USA® recognition by the Arbor Day Foundation for its commitment to effective urban forest management.

“Tree Campuses and their students set examples for not only their student bodies but the surrounding communities showcasing how trees create a healthier environment,” said Dan Lambe, president of the Arbor Day Foundation. “Because of your school’s participation air will be purer, water cleaner and your students and faculty will be surrounded by the shade and beauty the trees provide.”

The Tree Campus USA program honors colleges and universities for effective campus forest management and for engaging staff and students in conservation goals. Hope, which has 500 documented trees in its central campus, earned the title by meeting Tree Campus USA’s five standards, which include maintaining a tree advisory committee, a campus tree-care plan, dedicated annual expenditures for its campus tree program, an Arbor Day observance and student service-learning project. Currently there are 364 campuses across the United States with this recognition.

“This is the first year Hope College has received this recognition and we are so proud to be a part of it,” stated Kara Slater, director of operations at Hope. “A recognition from the Arbor Day showcases the excellent work by our grounds team that they not only make our campus beautiful but that they have also been for years focused on our environmental impacts.”

Among its other efforts focused on the campus’ trees, Hope has made a tradition of planting trees during each Earth Week and Arbor Day — including a total of six trees this past year.  Two special plantings were in honor of President Dennis and Betty Voskuil for their leadership and service to Hope over the past two years, which concluded on June 30, as well as for Greg Maybury, Hope’s chief sustainability officer, who is retiring this summer.

In addition, Hope is currently engaged in a new, large-scale planting project, thanks to a $2,000 grant from the Eaton Conservation District – Michigan Arbor Day Alliance.  The award is supporting 33 tree plantings, representing approximately 20 species of trees, along Columbia Avenue; at the new Campus Ministries house in the middle of campus; and in other locations where trees were removed for construction or because they were unhealthy or had become hazards due to age.

The college is also working with the City of Holland in chronicling the community’s trees.  “This summer we are continuing to strengthen our environmental stewardship partnership with the City of Holland through an Urban Tree Canopy Research Project by adding to the work of Hope College faculty members Dr. Kathy Winnett-Murray and Dr. Greg Murray and Hope student researchers Katelyn DeWitt, Zoe Gum and Alec Berrodin,” said Michelle Gibbs, who is director of the Hope College Office of Sustainability as well as of the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute established in 2014.

During the summer of 2018, a group of administrators, city GIS (geographic information system) staff, and Hope faculty and students formed a partnership between the City of Holland and Hope College to better understand the benefits of urban trees and to engage the public.   Last summer, student researchers inventoried the trees on city property and with the help of city GIS staff incorporated them into a common GIS database.  Using the iTree software developed by the USDA, they estimated tree benefits derived from their influence on carbon sequestration, hydrology, air pollution reduction, and energy savings.  This summer, the students are continuing to inventory trees on city property, adding an inventory of Hope College campus trees and creating a walking map of the trees on campus.  The project is funded through support from the college’s departments of biology and computer science, the college’s Green Team that focuses on environmental stewardship and sustainability, the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, the City of Holland Department of Parks and Recreation, and Holland in Bloom.

Hope has received recognition for its sustainability efforts from a variety of organizations through the years.  In 2017, the college earned a STARS Silver rating in recognition of its sustainability achievements from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education; in 2015, Hope College Dining received Gold-level recognition in the SEED sustainability program of Creative Dining Services; and in 2014, Hope received statewide recognition for its environmental stewardship through its grounds-management practices with certification from the Michigan Turfgrass Environmental Stewardship Program.

Hope is among the institutes that have signed the international Talloires Declaration, a 10-point plan for incorporating sustainability and environmental literacy in teaching, research, operations, and outreach at colleges and universities.  Earlier this year, Hope was one of only 26 colleges or universities nationwide, and the only one in Michigan, to receive an award through the PepsiCo Recycling Zero Impact Fund — support that the college will use to enhance its ongoing recycling and composting programs and increase awareness of the importance of both practice.

The Arbor Day Foundation has helped campuses throughout the country plant thousands of trees, and Tree Campus USA colleges and universities invested more than $51 million in campus forest management last year. More information about the program is available.

The Arbor Day Foundation is a million-member nonprofit conservation and education organization with the mission to inspire people to plant, nurture and celebrate trees. More information is available.