By Abigail Chadwick, Assistant News Editor (Photo by Jacob Factor/The Bison)
Oklahoma Baptist University has received two honors for its trees in recent months. These are national accreditation as a level II arboretum and recognition as a Tree Campus USA.
Part of maintaining these honors is planting a tree every year on Arbor Day, a holiday encouraging tree planting. Wednesday, March 28, OBU celebrated Arbor Day with a tree planting ceremony.
The ceremony took place in front of Taylor Residence Center and the new tree is a Taylor
“We’re going to plant our 2018 tree this year, appropriately it’s a Taylor Juniper, I thought of no better place for it than here at Taylor Hall,” Lisa Hair, groundskeeper II/gardener for OBU, said. “This tree is only going to get four feet wide but it’ll get about 15-20 feet tall.”
While only one tree was planted during the ceremony, two Taylor Junipers will now be
in front of Taylor Residence Center.
“We’ll have another one on the other side to match so that it’s more symmetrical and then we’re going to continue planting trees and growing pretty flowers and mowing all the pretty grass that’s been sprayed for weeds and it’s going to look absolutely gorgeous this year,” Hair said. “At the end of the year last year we were rewarded level two in our arboretum and we are the only accredited arboretum in the state of Oklahoma,” Hair said.
As part of the Tree Campus USA recognition OBU received a plaque and a flag. These
were displayed at the ceremony.
“We got a very nice plaque from the Tree Campus USA where each year we’ll get a different symbol to put on the bottom for the years that we’ve been participating,”
At the ceremony, Tom Terry, the community member for OBU’s tree advisory board, spoke about the history of Arbor Day.
In particular, Terry spoke about the first Arbor Day in Nebraska in 1872 and the expansion of the tradition from there.
“They planted over one million trees on the first Arbor Day,” Terry said. “Other states started establishing a similar program so that by 1920 over 45 States and territories were observing Arbor Day.”
Gaining national accreditation for OBU’s arboretum was one of the goals of the OBU 2020 plan, written in 2009.
“Part of that plan was campus beautification and in that section we identified a major goal of designating the OBU campus as a nationally accredited arboretum,” Dr. David Whitlock, president of OBU, said.
“It wasn’t just for the sake of having an accredited arboretum, it was for the sake of campus beautification and meeting a core value of OBU, which is excellence and having excellence in our grounds and excellence in the campus beauty is important because it says something about who we are as a university.”
This ceremony represents growing national and local attention to the campus’ grounds/ foliage.
During the inaugural year of having the ceremony, the Murrah bombing was memorialized also.
“The first year that we did it, last year, we planted a survivor tree seedling and that’s a seedling from the survivor tree from the Oklahoma Bombing Memorial,” Hair said.
“It’s very important to me to have a survivor tree on campus.”
Every year a tree advisory board decides what tree to plant for the next year and where and when it will be planted.
“We have a tree advisory board that meets quarterly and it’s composed of a member or two of the faculty and staff, the grounds supervisor, myself, two student members and a
community member,” Hair said. “Our last meeting of this coming year we will be deciding when we have Arbor Day, what tree we’re going to plant [and] where we’re going to plant it.”
There are many considerations that go into what trees to plant and where they will go.
“The tree will never be able to move to where it needs to be no matter how much it wants to,” Hair said. “Once you plant it it’s there and so you have to take soil, light, air movement [into consideration]… it’s a balancing act.”
Aesthetics are also considered in the planting of trees and flowers. In particular, what will make the campus more enjoyable and beautiful is a key concern for the groundskeeping crew.
“I try to plant to where my students are going to enjoy all the plants that we plant,” Hair said. “I want beauty on this campus and I want our students to realize that all of the grounds crew work very hard to make this campus extremely beautiful.”