Pitt-Bradford has been named a Tree Campus USA by the National Arbor Day Foundation for its commitment to effective campus tree management.
Similar to the Tree City USA program, Tree Campus USA is a national program created in 2008 by the Arbor Day Foundation to honor colleges and universities for effective campus tree management and for engaging staff and students in conservation goals.
Pitt-Bradford achieved 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 254 campuses across the U.S. (nine in Pennsylvania) with this recognition. Pitt-Bradford is the first University of Pittsburgh campus to earn the recognition.
The accreditation process at Pitt-Bradford was led by the campus's sustainability committee, led by Dr. Matt Kropf, assistant professor of energy science and technology and director of the American Refining Group/Harry R. Halloran Jr. Energy Institute, and Dr. Mary Mulcahy, associate professor of biology.
Kropf said the committee looked at several possible designations before deciding to apply for Tree Campus USA certification. “It's an internationally recognized designation and encouraged us to formalize some of the best practices for trees that we were already using,” Kropf said.
The tree committee is composed of faculty, staff and community members who can advise the campus facilities management staff on matters such as the treatment of trees for emerald ash beetles, gypsy moths or other arboreal diseases.
The committee also has a role in the creation and maintaining of a campus tree plan. The campus has committed to planting at least one new tree each year.
The campus had to complete a tree inventory, which had been created by Mulcahy. Bethany Kier, a biology and environmental studies major from Export, and Jonathan Heck, an environmental studies major from Pittsburgh, created a GIS map of the main part of campus with the location of each tree.
Shawn Phillips, a biology major from Secane, located ash trees on campus and measured their diameters to create a baseline for monitoring the health of the campuses ash trees as the emerald ash borer advances into the area.
Another group of students led by Dr. Denise Piechnick, assistant professor of biology, mapped ash trees along the Tunungwant Creek.
As a final part of its application, the campus had to agree to hold an Arbor Day event each year. This year's event will take place on Friday, April 22, which is also Earth Day.
From noon to 1 p.m. in the Mukaiyama University Room, students will make poster presentations on ecological topics. At 1 p.m., the winner of a student poster contest to promote the campus's Zero-Sort recycling system will be announced and prizes awarded. The announcement will be followed by a tree planting. The posters will remain up through 3 p.m.
From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., a campus cleanup sponsored by the Environmental Studies Club will be held. Those interested in helping are asked to meet at the Panther statue to help clean up campus.
From 3 to 6 p.m., a second clean-up event, this one sponsored by the Office of Community Engagement, will clean up and perform maintenance along the Tuna Valley Trails' Richard E. McDowell Trail. Those wishing to take part should meet at the gazebo on the trail near Blaisdell Hall. The public is welcome at all events.