“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” John Muir
“What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.” Mahatma Gandhi
West Chester University was named Tree Campus USA. A ceremony of dedication was planned by School’s Administration during Earth Week and specifically on Arbor Day.
In order to qualify for Tree Campus USA status, an institution of higher learning must submit an application that demonstrates they have adhered to a set of five standards:
Standard 1—Establish a Campus Tree Advisory Committee. This committee must include a representative from the undergraduate or graduate student body, faculty, facility management, and the community at large.
Standard 2—Manage a Campus-wide Tree Care Plan. From a clearly stated purpose, goals and objectives will be outlined. Responsibility and accountability will be defined.
Standard 3—Campus Tree Program with Dedicated Annual Expenditures. The hard work of establishing any garden is the money required to plant and maintain it. A suggested budget of $3.00 per student is a base line. In fact, the national average among recognized Tree Campuses is currently $9.00 to $11.00 per student. That is an empowering statement of intent.
Standard 4—Celebrate Arbor Day. I was present to witness the monumental undertakings that the college had put in place.
They had a grand military reenactment, a quad-full of earth day student organizations, and the recognition of their Bartram Oak. With John Bartram. Outstanding!
Standard 5—Development of a Service Learning Project. At West Chester, the student body was actively involved in a series of tree planting and gardening projects. This was a very life-affirming group of young adults.
After the ceremony, I was shown the wilderness preserve. It was the spring season when the forest floor was coming alive. The curator of the wilds directed me to an area fenced off as protection from deer predation. The fencing was protecting wild Ginseng.
Lastly, the director of the herbarium unlocked the door to a room of wonder. Behind locked metal doors on cabinets lining the walls were books filled with hundreds of dried examples of natural botanical history. A book was brought out and placed on the clean steel surface in front of me. It was the collection samples gathered by Humphrey Marshall from Bartram’s Garden.
Humphrey was my cousin. Our mothers were sisters. He had a collection of native specimens in a botanical garden he created in Marshallton. In 1785, he published Arboretum Americanum: the American Grove, an Alphabetical Catalogue of Forest Trees and Shrubs, Natives of the American United States.
And there in my hands was the result of his passionate dedication to collecting. From my garden. And possibly a leaf and flower from the first successfully cultivated Franklinia Altamaha.