For the third year in a row, students and campus employees met to celebrate Arbor Day and plant trees on campus.
The event was held on April 25 between the Diehn Performing arts Building and The Quad and featured music, food, potted plants and the opportunity to get ones hands dirty.
This is the second year in a row that ODU has been designated a “tree campus” by the Arbor Day Foundation, event organizer and EcoReps President Tynell Johnson explained, addressing a crowd of about a dozen.
“Virginia Tech is the only other Virginia school [that has the designation],” said ODU Grounds Manager, Chad Peevy, “it’s not an easy thing, the application process took a year.”
According to the ADF, “Tree Campus” schools have to meet a number of standards including observing Arbor Day and “the institution of a service learning project aimed at engaging the student body.”
In total, students planted 10 trees around Diehn and Scotland and Ireland houses with the help of grounds keeping employees.
“We’re planting them for food purposes, environmental purposes, and for beauty,” Peevy said, explaining the choice of trees, some of which will produce fruit.
“This is a Tulip Poplar,” explained Botany Club member and ODU student Elly Rudasi, standing beside a small freshly-planted tree, “it’s actually a host tree for the Virginia state butterfly.”
Planting trees can help regulate building temperatures and counter the effects of what’s known as a UHI, or urban heat island. A UHI is caused by the elimination of organic materials and subsequent replacement by man-made materials and buildings which absorb and produce heat.
Well-placed trees “can actually keep a building 5 degrees warmer or cooler depending on the season,” Rudasi explained, “and in the age of hotter summers, that’s a good thing.”
The new trees are being planted with the future in mind. As Peevy explained, grounds keeping is able to plant in accordance with future building placement as laid out by the campus master plan.
“This is going to be a dining facility,” he said motioning to the parking lot behind Diehn that borders 49th St. The plan is to get trees started now so that they can be best utilized when the buildings are completed and in use.
“we lost a lot of trees when Diehn was expanded” Peevy continued, explaining that the school had also installed a Best Management Practices filtration system along the building expansion that collects and filters storm water, “the fact that you didn’t know that [it’s there] means we succeeded.”
“I love planting trees, that’s why I personally do it but it’s different when the students say ‘hey we think trees are important,’” he continued, “this event is completely student driven.”
In fact, Johnson was the one behind organizing the event as well as the previous two Arbor Day celebrations, the first of which was the first the campus had seen.
The previous year, the event was held at Whitehurst Beach and saw the planting of 30 trees.
The future looks promising as well. The junior engineering student explained that about 20 different student organizations have expressed interest in a program that could see the sponsorship of trees on campus.