CFAES loves its buckeyes, and also all their friends

CFAES loves its buckeyes, and also all their friends
Ohio State, with CFAES’ help, boasts two green, healthy ‘Tree Campuses.’
“Trees on campus provide so many ecological benefits. They’re an integral part of a sustainable campus.”Kathy Smith

By Kurt Knebusch

Two homes of the Buckeyes were recently honored for how they care for their trees.

The Columbus campus of The Ohio State University and the Wooster campus of the university’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) have each been named a Tree Campus USA by the national Arbor Day Foundation

The designation, given annually, goes to colleges and universities for their commitment to effective urban forest management—for doing the work to have healthy trees where it’s sometimes a challenge to grow them. Recipients have to meet five standards, including having a campus tree advisory committee and a campus tree care plan.

Crabapple trees in Secrest Arboretum, Wooster. (Photo: Ken Chamberlain, CFAES.)

For the Columbus campus, it’s the eighth consecutive year earning the honor; for the Wooster campus, the seventh.

Arbor Day Foundation President Dan Lambe said Tree Campuses “set examples for not only their student bodies but the surrounding communities (by) showcasing how trees help the environment.”

Dave Benfield, director of the Wooster campus, said the Tree Campus recognition “attests to the passions” of the people involved—the campus workers and tree committee members—in conserving, caring for, and continuing to plant new trees. 

The two campuses’ tree committees have more than a dozen members each, including faculty, staff, and students from CFAES, from other parts of Ohio State, and many volunteers. Efforts include developing their campuses’ tree plans; planting, mapping, and inventorying trees; organizing service learning projects, and hosting Arbor Day celebrations.

CFAES Forestry Program Director Kathy Smith, a member of the Columbus campus tree committee, said helping a campus’s trees is critical. “There are all sorts of pressures” on them, she said, from drought to pests to a range of stresses—compacted soil, polluted air, Frisbees—that come from being around people.

And campuses often have lots of people.

Orton Hall on the Oval, Columbus. (Photo: University Communications, Ohio State.)

The Columbus campus, covering about 1,700 acres, has more than 60,000 students and 45,000 employees—along with, by one count, nearly 16,000 trees. Sycamores, maples, oaks, and others give shade on the Oval, the heart of the campus. Nearly 200 Ohio buckeye trees stand in Buckeye Grove at Ohio Stadium, each one honoring an All-America Ohio State football player. Some 3,600 trees alone grow in CFAES’ 62-acre Chadwick Arboretum & Learning Gardens.

The Columbus campus tree committee, for its part, is currently working to “enhance the tree canopy and preserve our heritage trees,” said Mary Maloney, Chadwick Arboretum director and a member of the committee. The work “drives our planning and purchasing decisions to ensure the healthiest and most diverse tree canopy possible,” she said. 

The Wooster campus, located about 95 miles north of Columbus and 60 miles south of Cleveland, includes three main parts: the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, CFAES’ research arm; Ohio State ATI, a two-year degree-granting unit within CFAES with about 700 students; and the 110-acre Secrest Arboretum.

Aerial image of Administration Building and Thorne Hall, Wooster. (Photo: Ken Chamberlain, CFAES.)

Roger Hamilton, grounds manager for the Wooster campus and a member of its tree committee, said the 400-acre campus core is home to more than 5,000 trees, from dawn redwoods—considered “living fossils”—to a 50-plus-year-old shade tree evaluation planting to the United States’ largest collection of flowering crabapples.

Jason Veil, Secrest Arboretum curator and a fellow member of the Wooster committee, said the Tree Campus designation symbolizes a commitment to a “healthy, beautiful, and functional tree canopy.”

Veil said trees give benefits beyond their good looks, including better health and wellness for people, greater energy efficiency in buildings, and money-saving ecological services such as stormwater retention.

“It’s a great sight to see a majestic tree in the campus landscape.”Dave Benfield

Trees are “critical green infrastructure,” Veil said.

Smith agreed. “Trees on campus provide so many ecological benefits,” she said. “They’re an integral part of a sustainable campus.”

Some 17 colleges and universities in Ohio and 364 throughout the United States have earned the Tree Campus designation so far this year, the foundation reported.

On all those campuses, Lambe said, “air will be purer (and) water cleaner” because of the work of their trees.

For Benfield, trees’ benefits are clear to the eye.

“It’s a great sight to see a majestic tree in the campus landscape,” he said. “It’s a beautiful sight.”

Buckeye Grove at Ohio Stadium, Columbus. (Photo: University Communications, Ohio State.)

You’re welcome to visit

Visiting CFAES’ Chadwick and Secrest arboreta is free and open to the public seven days a week from dawn to dusk. Activities include not just learning about trees and other plants, many of which are labeled, but also walking, birding, and simply relaxing in nature. Both facilities also offer a variety of workshops, tours, and special events. Some are free; some have a fee.

Chadwick Arboretum and the Wooster campus are both hosting Arbor Day celebrations on April 26. Chadwick’s, featuring the dedication of 32 new trees, will be at 10 a.m. on the west side of Kottman Hall. At Wooster, a tree planting ceremony is set for 3 p.m. on the front lawn of Ohio State ATI. Both events are free and open to the public.

Details on the arboreta and their activities are at and