February 10, 2017

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

VSU Celebrates Fifth Tree Campus USA Recognition

Ceremony Includes Planting of Long-Leaf Pine, Tour of Whitehead Camellia Trail

VALDOSTA — Valdosta State University’s unwavering commitment to effective urban forest management has resulted in a fifth Tree Campus USA recognition from the Arbor Day Foundation.

VSU will commemorate the occasion with an Arbor Day Ceremony at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 16, at The Whitehead Camellia Trail, which runs along the Georgia Avenue side of Main Campus. Faculty, staff, students, alumni, retirees, and friends of the university are invited to attend.

Matt Mrizek, Georgia Forestry Commission forester serving Echols, Lanier, and Lowndes counties, will present a brand new Tree Campus USA flag to Dr. Richard Carvajal, president of VSU.

Hunter Bowman, coordinator of The Nature Conservancy’s Okefenokee/Osceola Longleaf Partnership, will deliver the keynote address. Born and raised in Savannah, his job is to provide funding and support for the many longleaf pine restoration projects currently underway in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge and the Osceola National Forest. He earned undergraduate degrees in ecology and history from Vanderbilt University and previously worked for the Organization for Tropical Studies and the University of Georgia.

Bruce Green of Bruce Green and Associates Consulting of Atlanta will talk about The Whitehead Camellia Trail at VSU being included in the Georgia Camellia Trail, a tour of 30 public gardens across the state showcasing the many varieties of the flowering shrub. A VSU Department of Biology alumnus, he has had an interest in camellias since his middle school project on the effect of gibberellic acid on camellias. He has never forgotten the time he spent walking along the trail as a student.

A paved trail that winds 1,400 feet through VSU’s longleaf pine conservation area, The Whitehead Camellia Trail is home to more than 400 camellias, including some of the most prized varieties, such as the Alba Plena, Elegans, Pink Perfection, and Ville de Nantes. Visitors with a cellphone and a QR reader can enjoy an eight-stop self-guided video tour about the history and horticultural significance of the trail. Students from Dr. Emily Cantonwine’s BIOL 3630: Biology of Horticulture class wrote and produced the video tour.

Cantonwine and her students also wrote and produced a video series for VSU’s eight-stop Historical Plants Tour, which starts at the live oak tree at the Patterson Street entrance to Main Campus and takes visitors on a scenic journey throughout Blazer Nation’s home away from home.      

VSU’s Arbor Day Ceremony will conclude with the planting of a longleaf pine.

“Each year it takes the combined effort and support of the entire campus community and the surrounding City of Valdosta to make sure VSU’s urban forest is preserved and enhanced,” shared Monica Haynes, superintendent of Landscape and Grounds at VSU. She thanked every member of Blazer Nation for helping the university’s grounds maintenance team “maintain, preserve, and protect the trees and landscaping” and credited Kevin Jenkins, City of Valdosta arborist; Cantonwine and her horticulture students; Carvajal; and the Campus Beautification and Stewardship Committee with providing “all of the support in making sure VSU can continue to receive the Tree Campus USA designation.”

Tree Campus USA is a national program created in 2008 by the Arbor Day Foundation to honor colleges and universities for effective campus forest management and to engage college and university community members in conservation goals. There are currently 296 institutions of higher education across the United States with this recognition. Collectively they invested more than $46.7 million in campus forest management last year.

“Students are eager to volunteer in their communities and become better stewards of the environment,” said Matt Harris, chief executive of the Arbor Day Foundation. “Participating in Tree Campus USA sets a fine example for other colleges and universities, while helping to create a healthier planet for us all.”

The Arbor Day Foundation is a million-member nonprofit conservation and education organization dedicated to inspiring people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees.

VSU’s Department of Landscape and Grounds is committed to providing the campus community with the highest quality service in the areas of horticulture, landscape maintenance, landscape construction, irrigation, and trash compaction. Each grounds maintenance team member takes pride in his or her efforts to maintain the distinctive beauty of the campus and how that supports university-wide recruitment and retention efforts.    

On the Web:
  • General VSU Information
  • 229.333.5800
  • Office of Communications
  • 229.333.2163
  • 229.333.5983
  • Campus Address
    Office of Communications Powell Hall West, Suite 1120
  • Mailing Address
    1500 N. Patterson St.
    Valdosta, GA 31698