Sept. 4, 2007
CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine:
Campuswide tree-tagging program takes root in Slippery Rock
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Jerry Chmielewski, chair of the biology department at Slippery Rock University, is branching out across campus to label representative trees with their biological Latin and English names in an effort to support campus greening and environmental literacy.
"We have a wonderful collection of trees at SRU, including American elms and horse chestnuts that likely date to the early days of the campus," he said. "The ultimate purpose of the project is to support learning and an appreciation for the environment. Everyone who comes to campus will walk by these trees and see the signs, and students will see them many times during their college careers. Hopefully, they will learn the species names and learn to recognize them when they see similar trees off campus. As such, our trees serve as an outdoor classroom."
Chmielewski started tagging trees this summer and has already labeled about half the trees on the older part of campus. He plans to label the rest of the trees in the historic area and representative trees of each species elsewhere on campus before winter.
"I've been walking around with my GPS unit, my hammer and my tags - sort of like a modern day Johnny Appleseed," he said. "Tagging the trees is one of those things that the campus needs and will make us stand out. It will be like an informational walking trail where you'll be able to see and learn about the different trees on campus."
President Robert Smith supports the project. "Students and campus visitors will automatically pick up on the great variety of native trees already growing on campus and will learn to identify like species throughout their entire lives," he said. "This project meshes perfectly with our overall promotion of a 'green campus,' and will make all members of the University community more aware of the environment."
Chmielewski said the developed part of campus harbors more than 25 species. They include American elms, Douglas firs, blue spruces, sycamores, river birches, magnolias, weeping cherries, bur oaks, red maples, honeylocusts, American smoketrees and flowering pears.
The signs, about the size of a credit card, include the Latin genus and species and English name below. The tags face pathways.
He anticipates collaborating with the Student Government Association, which is exploring the purchase of additional native and exotic trees. Past graduating classes have purchased trees for campus and a "wish list" provided by the SRU Environmental Zoning Committee includes more than 100 species.
"There is an old saying that there are two kinds of people, flower planters and tree planters. Flower planters plant for today, tree planters plant for the future," Chmielewski said. "Hopefully, this project will help people realize that years ago people planted the trees that we enjoy today. In turn that will motivate them to learn more about the trees we have on campus, and to support planting trees future generations of SRU students can enjoy."
Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.