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Arbor Day Planting

arbor day planting5/7/12
Worthington Campus
With the official proclamation read by Worthington Mayor Pro Tem Lyle Ten Haken, students, faculty and staff celebrated Arbor Day with the planting of a Black Hills Spruce tree on the Worthington campus of Minnesota West Community & Technical College Friday morning.

The tree was one of more than 180 to be planted on the campus this spring through a partnership between the college and the city of Worthington. The living snow fence/shelterbelt/windbreak is designed to act as a wind buffer and reduce snow drifting on Thompson and Lexington avenues.

Ed Lenz, district manager of the Nobles County Soil and Water Conservation District designed the project, and the campus purchased 44 Scotch pine and 130 dogwood trees from the SWCD for the project. Nine donors, consisting mostly of Minnesota West faculty and the Worthington Chamber of Commerce, contributed $100 each toward the purchase of nine 4- to 5-foot Black Hills Spruce trees from Prairie Land Trees, Inc., that are also included in the project. It was one of those trees that was planted as part of the campus’ Arbor Day celebration.

“We want our communities all over to look warm, welcoming and inviting and trees are a major part of that,” said Minnesota West President Richard Shrubb. “The staff is tired of hearing me say we want the outside of the campus to look like a country club and the inside to look like a Barnes and Noble bookstore. That’s what we’re shooting for and what we’re doing today is a major part of that.”

Minnesota West is a member of the Tree Campus USA program, which was initiated by the National Arbor Day Foundation to recognize college campuses who excelled in tree management and student and community involvement, said Gordon Heitkamp, Building Maintenance Foreman. He said all of the Minnesota West campuses are participating.

Tree Campus USA requires colleges to designate a certain amount of funds to plant trees and provide tree maintenance. At Minnesota West, Heitkamp said they have designated $3 per full-time equivalent student toward tree planting activities.

“It’s probably in the $2,000 range that we will devote to the tree campus program, but that’s not all cash dollars,” he added. The total cost of the living snow fence installed this spring is approximately $850.

“Our long-term goal is to continue this program year to year and work toward being recognized by the Tree Campus USA program as a tree campus,” Heitkamp said.

Lenz said the living snow fence established this year will have a lifespan of approximately 20 years. The Scotch pine will grow to approximately 30 feet tall, and the dogwoods, considerably shorter, will help to stop the snow from drifting onto the nearby streets.

“You should have a very nice wind break that provides protection and beautification for the campus,” Lenz said.

This is the largest tree planting project Minnesota West has ever completed, according to Heitkamp. Three Black Hills Spruce trees were planted last fall, and more trees will be added to the campus in the future.

As part of the campus’ involvement with Tree Campus USA, students in the environment and agriculture tracks will get involved with tree care and maintenance.

“It’s one of the five core standards that are involved in being recognized as a tree campus —that we integrate our students into some type of educational process,” Heitkamp said. The other core standards include the establishment of a tree campus advisory committee, creation of a tree care plan, dedicated annual expenditures and hosting an Arbor Day observance.

Paul Langseth, owner of Prairie Land Trees, Inc., said he’s participated in Arbor Day observances since he established his business in 1995.

“If you take out a tree, plant another tree,” he said. “It’s important for the prairie ecosystem that we have some wind blockage, and trees are critical for that.”

By: Julie Buntjer, Worthington Daily Globe