TU also recognized nationally for commitment to trees
With Earth Day on April 22 and Arbor Day on April 30, the Towson University community is highlighting its commitment to sustainability in multiple ways this month.
The first is the publication of a new StoryMap, “Glen Arboretum Native Tree Trail.” The map takes users on a guided tour through the Glen, located in the heart of campus, and highlights a collection of more than 30 trees native to Maryland.
James Hull, professor emeritus and director of the Glen Arboretum, says having a map like this has been a “long-term objective,” and he’s glad to see it up and running.
“In the Glen, the trees that are on the StoryMap all have physical labels on them, with the common and the scientific names and a short description of the characteristics of the plant and maybe a comment or an interesting fact,” Hull says.
Additionally, the labels have QR codes on them, which visitors can scan to visit a webpage with even more information about the trees. This way, anyone on campus, whether they’re following the StoryMap or not, can learn more about the trees that surround them, Hull says.
In addition to benefits like mitigating stormwater runoff and increasing air quality, Hull says there’s an added “personal” benefit to being able to walk through the Glen.
“A college campus can be a stressful environment for people. The opportunity to walk out of a building and to go and sit and think, reflect on whatever is on one’s mind and be able to relax in a forest…That is part of the joy of being surrounded by natural things.”
Hull and others, as a part of TU’s annual Big Event volunteer day on April 17, spent time in the Glen, collecting trash and removing English ivy, an invasive species.
Vanessa Beauchamp, associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, will be marking Arbor Day by participating in a talk with the Natural History Society of Maryland about arboretums in the state.
Beauchamp will be talking, naturally, about the Glen. She regularly takes her botany students into the arboretum to connect classroom discussions with their real-world counterparts.
“I like that we have this really cool place to take students outside and that I can be an ambassador for the Glen to the community, to make the arboretum more accessible to the public,” she says. “The more people understand a space and become linked with a space, the more they want to preserve it.”
Paddy Watson, assistant director of sustainability, says students are throughout the month in, peer-to-peer environmental education, including a “scrape the plate” activity to draw attention to food waste and by learning about the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Recently, TU was the host university in Maryland for a global environmental dialogue hosted by The Bard Center for Environmental Policy, focused on finding climate solutions by 2030 and recognized for a third consecutive year by the Arbor Day Foundation as a “Tree Campus USA.”
To earn the distinction, TU met the five core standards for effective campus forest management: establishing a tree advisory committee, evidence of a campus tree-care plan, dedicated annual expenditures for the campus tree program, an Arbor Day observance and the sponsorship of student service-learning projects.