10-Year Tree Campus USA Spotlight: University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Tree Campus USA

10-Year Tree Campus USA Spotlight: University of Nebraska-Lincoln

By Amber Morrison | August 31, 2018

Service Learning for Students is a big part of the Tree Campus USA Experience at UNL

This year, Tree Campus USA celebrates its 10-year anniversary. To commemorate this milestone, we are highlighting the campuses that have been part of the program since the beginning. Guest post by Eileen Bergt, Assistant Director UNL Landscape Services, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The University of Nebraska—Lincoln (UNL) was honored to be one of the first designated Tree Campus USA schools dating back to 2008. Prior to 2008, UNL only met three of the Tree Campus USA standards –lacking in formally engaging our student population. Tree Campus USA had a positive influence on UNL by giving us a push to engage students in tree planting. UNL is now able to share and embrace students’ passion, energy and care for our trees through the Service Learning Project.

In the past, the initiation for projects was led by UNL Landscape Services. In the last two years, the Sustainability Committee for the Association of the Students at the University of Nebraska (ASUN; student government) has taken initiative in reaching out to Landscape Services and recruiting their peers to plant trees on campus. In the fall of 2017, more than 15 students showed up on a chilly morning to plant 11 trees. To see their enthusiasm, passion and care for the trees was contagious! Our crew was delighted to make new friends and students were thrilled to contribute to the planting and care of our trees. Through the Service Learning Project standard, in last 10 years, we have planted more than 180 trees with more than 230 students.

The second project took place in the summer of 2017. Every year, the U.S. Department of State hosts up to 700 outstanding Mandela Washington Fellows from 49 African nations to hone their leadership skills in the areas of business and entrepreneurship, civic leadership and/or public management at 38 different higher education institutions in the U.S.

Last year, UNL welcomed 25 of these young and dynamic emerging leaders for six-weeks. At the end of their stay, the Fellows wanted to plant a tree on Nelson Mandela’s birthday and Nelson Mandela International Day, July 18, to commemorate their time at UNL. Hearing of their interest and significance of the date, we went to work to make it happen.

Luckily, we happened to have a London planetree in our holding nursery. The London planetree was significant to Nelson Mandela, he planted a London planetree in 1996 in London’s St. James Park – now known as the Mandela Tree. The morning was wet but that didn’t stop the excitement and enthusiasm. Our Nursery Supervisor created a document that outlined the significance of the tree and was later signed by the Fellows. This document was put into a time capsule and buried under the newly planted tree. A ceremonial African song and dance were performed to dedicate the tree.

These are just two highlights from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Our students continue to show interest in trees. UNL is extremely proud of our designation as a Tree Campus USA.

Campus forestryTree Campus USA



Amber Morrison

Amber Morrison

Program Operations Manager

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