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Apr 21, 2014 | Atlanta, GA
Just in time for Earth Day, and for the sixth consecutive year, the Arbor Day Foundation has recognized Georgia Tech as a Tree Campus USA university.
For Hyacinth Ide, associate director of landscape services, the award reaffirms that Tech is doing something right.
“It highlights all the things we are doing that otherwise people would not know,” Ide said. “A beautiful tree canopy helps in recruiting students and faculty. Once they see the peaceful environment, they want to come in and know more about what we have [on campus].”
The award, given by the Arbor Day Foundation, is funded by a grant from Toyota.
Ide and his team first heard about the award through a representative from the Forest Service, when she recruited them to apply for the recognition in 2008.
That marked the first year Georgia Tech earned a Tree Campus USA designation. Since then, the school’s commitment to improving its tree collection has continued to climb.
Last year, the landscaping team inventoried the trees on campus using a geographical information system, commonly referred to as GIS. In the end, the total count of trees numbered close to 12,000.
“We can locate any tree on campus, just with a handheld device,” said George Robertson, construction foreman for the landscaping team. “It pinpoints the tree — it’ll tell you what kind it is, how tall — and this shows us which trees we’ve tended recently.”
In order to earn this year’s distinction, Georgia Tech demonstrated excellence in five areas of campus forest management: a tree advisory committee, a campus tree care plan, dedicated annual expenditures for a campus tree program, an Arbor Day observance, and the sponsorship of student service-learning projects.
The last tenet is near and dear to Ide’s heart, especially with regard to the support students showed for the tree program during this year’s Tech Beautification Day. More than 1,000 students participated in the philanthropic landscaping program, which took place Saturday, March 29.
“We’re educating a new generation to be exposed in environmental stewardship,” Ide said. “To see students giving up their Saturdays to plant for the tree program, that’s a beautiful thing.”