University of South Carolina's campus is home to about 7,000 trees. Those trees, and how they are cared for earned USC the designation of a Tree Campus USA for the seventh consecutive year. Tree Campus USA is a National Arbor Day Foundation program.
Colleges and universities must first meet five standards to be recognized as a Tree Campus.
1. A Campus Tree Advisory Committee must be established. The committee is to be representative of all who have a stake in campus trees. Assistant Director of USC's Facilities Department Tom Knowles says this includes faculty, staff, students and neighboring community members.
2. The college or university must develop a written plan for caring for their campus trees.
3. Tree campuses are required to allocate finances and produce a budget for the care and improvement of their landscape.
4. Celebrate Arbor Day with a ceremony. The holiday traditionally falls on the last Friday in April. Some states have adjusted the date based on their planting season. South Carolina will celebrate Arbor Day on Friday, December 2 this year.
5. Implement a Service Learning Project. This involves student groups and organizations on campus planting additional trees Knowles says.
A staff of approximately 35-40 people make up USC's landscaping programs.
"They do a wonderful job considering we're an urban campus. We have 30,000 plus students that use the grounds pretty heavily every day, so it's a challenge but we've got some great people who do great things," Knowles says.
Knowles favorite part of USC's campus is the Horseshoe.
"It's the iconic symbol of the University of South Carolina for a good reason. If you look at it, just about any time of year it's just beautifully covered in gorgeous trees," he says.
Green Quad Faculty Principal Joe Jones agrees.
"When I was an undergraduate here a long time ago, before there were green spaces at Davis Field, I would go to the Horseshoe between classes and just hangout...That was 25 years ago, and honestly the horseshoe looks exactly the same today as it did then, and in 25 years it will still look that way," Jones says.
It takes the university's investment and students and community members pulling together to keep this designation, says Knowles.
Knowles and the Facilities Department are proud of the continued recognition, and will continue to work hard to perpetuate this tree campus for future generations.