University hosts first Arbor Day celebration

As a part of the 13 Days Celebrating the Earth,  Landscaping Services, the Office of Sustainability and Residence Life & Housing hosted the university’s first-ever Arbor Day Celebration at 4 p.m. April 15. Attendees gathered on this warm, bright afternoon in the newly renovated outdoor area outside of North Campus Apartments Building 1. Miles Silman, associate professor of biology and director of Wake Forest’s Center for Energy, Environment and Sustainability, opened the ceremony.

Olivia Boyce/Old Gold & Black

Olivia Boyce/Old Gold & Black

“Arbor Day is one day where we share our love affair with trees — their beauty, their grace, their timelessness and their witness to history,” Silman said. He then explained the many, often overlooked functions of trees. “They move hundreds of gallons of water from the ground to the air each day when the leaves are out; they also provide shade and cooling, and they house a number of local species,” Silman said.

Silman recognized many of the event’s supporters, including representatives from the city of Winston-Salem and the Keep Winston-Salem Beautiful organization who were in attendance. He thanked Jim Alty; associate vice president of facilities and campus services; Jim Coffee, director of landscape services; Ryan Swanson the university architect; Dedee Johnston, director of the office of sustainability; senior Caitlin Brooks and more.

Silman then explained the university campus tree care plan that was approved in 2010. The plan has been designed to protect the future of the trees on campus, especially as new buildings are built and the campus expands. The campus tree plan is a crucial first step toward the university receiving a campus tree USA designation.

This designation recognizes colleges and universities that effectively manage their campus trees and develop connectivity with the community beyond campus borders. They must also utilize service learning opportunities centered on campus and community forestry.

Next on the program agenda was North Campus apartments Hall Director Rebecca Hewitt-Newson, representing Resident Life & Housing.

“We hope that taking this time will provide a new sense of awareness of our responsibility to the natural environment around us,” Hewitt-Newson said. “An aspect to the mission of our department of Resident Life & Housing is to foster responsibility for the community around us and to help students develop practices for caring for their environment, and so we are dedicated to taking care of the patch of land our students live and learn on.”

Following Hewitt-Newson’s remarks, sophomore Bentrice Jusu from Can I Poet With You? read an appropriately themed poem about poet Rita Dove’s connection with trees called “Testimonial.”

After the short program, the group helped facilities to plant five trees around the area in honor of the occasion. Participants donned shovels to dig, place and plant the Dogwood and Loblolly Pine dedication trees. Light refreshments were served to celebrate the event, and North Campus apartments staff hosted a decorate your own reusable tote bad event as a resident life program.