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University of Central Missouri Earns 2024 Tree Campus Higher Education Distinction

By Alex Greenwood, April 26, 2024


arbor-day-tree-status-2024.pngStudents Hadley Oden (left) and Krystle Lain participated in activities that helped UCM become a 2024 Tree Campus.


The University of Central Missouri (UCM) was honored with the 2024 Tree Campus Higher Education recognition by the Arbor Day Foundation for its commitment to effective urban forest management.


The Tree Campus Higher Education program honors colleges and universities for effective campus forest management and engaging staff and students in conservation goals. Currently there are 410 campuses across the United States with this recognition, and UCM is one of only 10 such campuses in Missouri to earn this designation.


“Earning Tree Campus designation is one more example of how UCM's students, faculty and staff work collaboratively to create a vibrant and supportive campus community of which we can all be proud to be a part,” said Dr. Shari Bax, UCM vice president for student experience and engagement.


The Arbor Day Foundation is the world’s largest-membership nonprofit organization dedicated to planting trees. The first Arbor Day celebration was held on April 10, 1872, a year to the month after UCM was founded on April 27, 1871. The Tree Campus Higher Education program began in 2008 to encourage colleges and universities to plant trees on their campuses.


“Trees not only play a vital role in the environment but also in our daily lives,” said Dan Lambe, chief executive of the Arbor Day Foundation. “Having trees on college and university campuses is a great way to show a commitment to students’ and faculty’s overall well-being.”

Earning this recognition involved a service learning project completed by students in the UCM Student Government Association (SGA) and the Horticulture Club.


“We are extremely excited about the university’s new Tree Campus status. I am thrilled that SGA has gotten to be a part of this initiative and has been able to contribute to making our campus environment and world better as a whole,” said Hiba Lukadi, SGA president.

Mark Goodwin, associate professor of Horticulture, advises the university’s Horticulture Club, which participated in the service project.


“I helped make Warrensburg a Tree City,” Goodwin said of efforts that resulted in the city’s recognition since 2010. “It’s fitting that we (UCM) should get Tree Campus status now.”

UCM staff member Kathy Strickland, alumni and development communications manager and grounds Manager Greg Nelson have also been instrumental in helping with this effort.


“I love our campus, and I’ve always thought it’s a beautiful campus to brag about,” said Hadley Oden, a student involved in the project who also serves as a student governor on the University of Central Missouri Board of Governors. “Making it a Tree Campus and giving UCM another thing to be proud of was something I wanted to be a part of, and I’m glad we were able to do so.”

Trees on campus and in urban spaces can lower energy costs by providing shade cover, cleaner air and water, and green spaces for students and faculty. In addition, trees have been shown to improve students’ mental and cognitive health, provide an appealing aesthetic for campuses, and create shaded areas for studying and gathering.


More information about the program is available at


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