College Planning & Managment - February 2018
By Sue Paist
ArbNet Coordinator, The Morton Arboretum
Did you realize your campus grounds are much more than just a nice setting among your buildings? How many times have you heard students referring to their campus as “beautiful” or “it just feels right”? What sets your campus grounds apart from the others? Are you utilizing your grounds to their fullest potential? Is your campus an outdoor classroom and a living laboratory? Did you know that your campus grounds could be an officially accredited arboretum earning distinction, opening up funding opportunities, and achieving recognition worldwide?
ArbNet – Network your campus as an arboretum
ArbNet is an interactive, collaborative, international community of arboreta and tree-focused professionals, established in 2011 to advance the planting and conservation of trees. As part of its mission to support tree-focused institutions, ArbNet provides the Arboretum Accreditation Program, the only international accreditation program dedicated to recognizing and advancing the professionalism of arboreta. If your college/university participates in Tree Campus USA a great next step is ArbNet accreditation. Many college campus grounds have become accredited arboreta through ArbNet. The free accreditation program facilitates the sharing of knowledge, experience, and other resources to help arboreta meet their institutional goals and works to raise professional standards. Arboreta are accredited at one of four levels, based on collections, capacity, outreach, programming, and collaboration. As of December 2017, 215 institutions worldwide have become accredited and 50 of those are college or university campus arboreta.
Become a campus arboretum (for free!)
The greenspace on your campus is important for students to relax and recharge. There are numerous scientific studies that show arboreta have a strong positive impact on mental and physical health. Arboreta enhance learning and quality of life for your students and community. Your university or college can become an outdoor classroom, living laboratory, and an inspiration for a greener, healthier, and more beautiful world.
Beyond a traditional park, an arboretum focuses on horticultural display of labeled woody species for plant research and education to promote tree conservation and public awareness. Not only are arboreta beautiful, but campus departments can partner to develop participatory student learning experiences and innovative leadership and service learning internships (see the examples from accredited campus arboreta below). These partnerships can result in students planning and implementing outreach initiatives, beautification efforts, and educational events for K-12 students and campus visitors- all using your newly accredited arboretum!