Students and staff at Kentucky State University grabbed shovels and planted 50 trees around the baseball field, tennis courts and a walkway Thursday as part of an effort to make the campus greener.
The event was one of 13 tree-planting ceremonies sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation and Toyota this spring. The organizations joined with the historically black Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity and Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority for six of the events.
The Tree Campus USA program honors colleges and universities that promote “healthy urban forest management and engaging the campus community in environmental stewardship,” according to the Arbor Day Foundation.
The foundation is reviewing KSU and other campuses throughout the nation for the 2012 cycle. The number of participating colleges and universities is expected to reach 147, according to the foundation.
President Mary Sias said the event was a good fit for KSU, which is charged to focus on agriculture and related fields as a Land Grant university.
“We look to make an impact on the footprint we leave globally, not only here, but around this region,” she said.
“We know that trees serve as windbreakers, they actually provide moisture for retention of the soil.”
It’s clear that KSU students value sustainability, she said, because Student Government made that its top priority last year. Sias granted the students $30,000 for their efforts, which included planting trees along East Main Street to halt soil erosion.
KSU administrator Ivory Griskell, a representative of Alpha Phi Alpha, said fraternity members hope the effort “lights a fire and desire to revitalize this campus, this community” and beyond.
“Today we are on the horizon of a new adventure, a new journey of renewal as we look toward the future,” he said.
“We have a golden opportunity to seek, to preserve and improve the community and world in which we live.”
The Arbor Day Foundation and Toyota donated the trees and planting supplies. Representatives of the Kentucky Division of Forestry showed students the proper way to plant a tree and oversaw their work.
Trees planted Thursday were white pines, Northern red oaks, red sunset maples, legacy sugar maples, skyline honey locusts, Southern magnolia and allee elms.