Students, faculty and staff at the University of Arkansas at Monticello recently planted a white oak tree at the center of campus recently in recognition of Arbor Day, a nationally-celebrated observance that encourages tree planting and care.

Pictured from left are (front row) Rebecca Smith, Robert Leonard, director of the Missionary Baptist Student Fellowship, Emily Oliver, Matt McClain, SGA President-Elect Rachel Bedenbaugh, SGA President Jessica Noble, Leigh Brist, Dr. Jimmie Yeiser, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, Joe Friend, district forester for the Arkansas Forestry Commission, Nancy Barnett of the UAM Tree Board, (second row) Cody Cormier, Sam Mays, James Payne, Jay Jones, vice chancellor for finance and administration, Krammer Rhodes, and Jared Webb.

The observance is one of five requirements for the campus to maintain its standing as part of Tree Campus USA. The other standards include maintaining a campus Tree Board comprised of administrators, physical plant staff, faculty and students; a campus-wide tree care plan which provides guidelines for proper tree planting, care and protection during construction activities and tree replacement; an annual student service project, such as the planting and mulching project completed recently; and tree care expenditures equivalent to $3 per student.

Jay Jones, vice chancellor for finance and administration, and Jessica Noble, president of the Student Government Association, spoke briefly before the tree planting ceremony. The actual planting and mulching was supervised by Chris Stuhlinger, university forest manager.

UAM contains nearly 1,400 trees, according to Stuhlinger.

“Recently, about 35 new trees were planted on campus,” he said. “All our trees need periodic care to keep them healthy. Each year, more than 100 trees on campus are pruned and mulched. As some trees get older and become diseased, they have to be removed. UAM replaces each tree that is removed with two new trees.”

UAM was designated a Tree Campus USA in 2010. “The Tree Campus USA program is an initiative to foster the development of the next generation of tree stewards,” said Jones. “The program is designed to award national recognition to college campuses and the leaders of their surrounding communities for promoting healthy urban forest management and engaging the campus community in environmental stewardship.”

Arbor Day is a nationally-celebrated observance that encourages tree planting and care. Founded by J. Sterling Morton in 1872 in Nebraska, it is celebrated throughout the nation and world.