2023 Arbor Day celebration celebrates Western’s commitment to Tree Campus designation | WMU News


Contact: Erin Flynn
May 1, 2023

  • Jeff Eckert, certified arborist, and Jeff Spoelstra, director of the Western Office for Sustainability, help plant a pagoda dogwood.

    Courtesy: Laura Kirkendall

  • A crowd gathers in front of the Haenicke Hall.

    Darrell Junkins speaks to Western employees gathered outside Haenicke Hall in celebration of Arbor Day.

    Courtesy: Laura Kirkendall

  • Two trees are planted in front of the Haenicke Hall.

    Two pagoda dogwoods are among the trees planted on Arbor Day.

  • Jeff Eckert rakes dirt around a newly planted dogwood.

    Jeff Eckert rakes dirt around the newly planted tree.

  • Plaques lay on a table.

    Western has consistently been recognized as a Tree Campus since the program began in 2008.

  • A sign saying Tree Campus Higher Education.

    The Arbor Day Foundation has recognized Western as a Tree Campus Higher Education.

  • Darrell Junkins speaks with outstretched arms.

    Darrell Junkins tells the Arbor Day crowd about the new trees being planted.

    Courtesy: Darrell Junkins

KALAMAZOO, Mich. – Western Michigan University celebrated Arbor Day by adding three new trees to the campus Friday, April 28th. The two pagoda dogwoods and giant dogwood now stand outside the southeast corner of Haenicke Hall, replacing a large shingle oak tree that fell victim to the ice storm in late February. Acting as Western’s resident Lorax, Darrell JunkinsGroundsman, spoke for the three trees, which he considered guests of honor at the celebration.

“Wildlife loves these trees, so they will provide a beautiful habitat for things like butterflies, songbirds and waterfowl,” says Junkins. “This is the 17th year we’ve been doing this. I think this is the perfect time for all of us to stop, breathe in and out, catch our breath and congratulate ourselves on a job well done. … Congratulations (to Landscape Services) on making the campus look so beautiful.”

The celebration also recognized the university’s recent recognition as a Tree Campus Higher Education by the Arbor Day Foundation. To earn this award, the university had to meet five core standards for effective campus forest management, including establishing a tree advisory board, having a tree care plan, providing annual spending for an on-campus tree program, hosting a tree day, and sponsoring student service learning projects .

Western was among the first recipients of the Tree Campus award in 2008 and is proud to continually uphold the standards to remain a green campus committed to environmental stewardship. It’s also a point of personal pride for Junkins, whose passion for trees is rooted in his childhood.

“My education almost 40 years ago was landscaping and I grew up on a farm in a rural atmosphere climbing apple trees as a child. I’ve just always loved trees,” he says. “All my life I have planted or been involved in trees across the country. They have so many benefits for them, there are almost countless.”

Junkins hopes to work with Jeff Eckert and other certified arborists on campus to showcase the diverse tree diversity on Western’s campus in the future with a tour.

“Being a university and having this campus and having the space that gives these trees something like a reserve — I think it’s important that we emphasize that,” Eckert says, noting that the campus is a living laboratory. dr Todd Barkman, professor of life sciences, incorporates campus vegetation into his classes. “We want to keep planting trees that he can use in his classes because if it’s an investment for the campus, it should be an investment for the students.”

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