W&J Campus Arboretum Earns Tree Campus USA Designation for Seventh Year

Created: April 8, 2020
Last Updated: April 14, 2020

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WASHINGTON, PA (April 8, 2020) – It was a busy year in 2019 for the W&J Campus Arboretum, and for the faculty, staff, and students who assisted in planting 125 trees to make the Washington & Jefferson College campus even greener.

For these efforts, and a long-standing tradition of excellent care for this important part of campus, the W&J Campus Arboretum was honored with the Tree Campus USA recognition by the Arbor Day Foundation for the seventh year in a row.

While many institutions earn this recognition once and do not re-apply, said Associate Professor of Biology Jason Kilgore, Ph.D., W&J continues to develop and improve its campus landscape every year and has applied for, and received, recognition for the last seven years.

In addition to tree planting, W&J invested in pruning more than 40 mature trees and removed only 35 trees that were considered unhealthy or affected by construction activities. Kilgore, who oversees management of the Arboretum, said he was proud to have planted many more trees than were removed, including the addition of new species, like overcup oak, thus growing the Arboretum and the ability to teach and learn from it.

In the coming year, the College will continue to invest in improving tree safety and health through pruning, while Kilgore and his student assistants will complete the biannual monitoring and tagging of all of the new trees. Kilgore and the Facilities staff work together to share tree care information and ideas for future plantings. With the Campus Arboretum becoming a destination for others to see interesting and unique tree species, Kilgore hopes to launch an improved webpage with updated geospatial and accession data in the coming year.

The Campus Arboretum at W&J College was established in 2012 when Kilgore worked with alumnus Kyle Karwatski ’14, then a student, to design and populate the first database with tree locations and identities.  Since that first year, many W&J students have contributed to the Arboretum through monitoring trees, installing tags, planting and maintaining Arbor Day trees, and using trees in their class research and art projects. In addition, Washington High School students and local Girl and Boy Scout groups have participated in Arboretum-related activities.

Due to current COVID-19 restrictions, the annual Arbor Day Observance Event will be held once classes resume in the Fall. However, Arboretum caretakers encourage everyone to contribute in their own way on Arbor Day, which is observed this year on April 24, by planting a new tree or improving the health of existing trees.

The Campus Arboretum now encompasses the entire 85 acres of urban campus and athletic facilities. All of the nearly 1,200 trees from 83 species are accessioned and evaluated, with close to 1,000 trees bearing metal tags with accession number and family, scientific, and common names. Particularly noteworthy trees include a mature American elm, a mature willow oak, and five mature osage-oranges from an historical property line separating the College from the former Washington Female Seminary.

UPDATE: As of April 14, 2020, the Arboretum includes 1128 trees from 103 species. These numbers were provided by this year’s Arboretum Information Specialist, Brandon Marcucci ’21, Environmental Studies Major.

About Washington & Jefferson College

Washington & Jefferson College, located in Washington, Pa., is a selective liberal arts college founded in 1781. Committed to providing each of its students with the highest-quality undergraduate education available, W&J offers a traditional arts and sciences curriculum emphasizing interdisciplinary study and independent study work. For more information about W&J, visit www.washjeff.edu, or call 888-W-AND-JAY.

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