On Sunday, October 6, 2013, Trevecca Nazarene University was recognized as one of two universities in the state of Tennessee that have been designated Tree Campuses USA by the Arbor Day Foundation for their efforts to create green forests within the city. Trevecca’s history of planting trees on its campus began in the 1940s. In those days part of Trevecca’s campus at 333 Murfreesboro Road was a working farm, which produced food that fed the school’s students, and fruit trees dotted the campus. In the 1970s Trevecca president Homer J. Adams began planting on Trevecca’s campus one of every tree native to the state of Tennessee. A member of the faculty, Professor Jerry Costa, created a map of the campus which showed the location and genus of all the trees growing on the campus. Some of those trees had to be removed in recent years in order to make room for new buildings and campus improvements; others had to be removed after they died or became diseased.

In 2010 Trevecca began a concerted effort to add more trees to the campus as a way of adding beauty to its part of Nashville, to model its commitment to creation care, to engage its student body in an effort that sustains the environment in many ways, and to use the campus as a living laboratory in which students and others can learn ways to protect the environment.

From 2010 to the present, Trevecca’s plant operations personnel engaged in an intensive effort to plant, map, and label the trees on campus. That effort resulted in Trevecca’s earning “Tennessee arboretum status” from the Arboretum Certification Committee of the Tennessee Urban Forestry Council (TUFC) in 2012. Of the four levels of arboretums this organization recognizes (levels based on the number of different species at that site—30, 60, 90, or 120), Trevecca was named a level-two arboretum for planting an additional 60 different species of trees on its campus. Trevecca is now one of 70 TUFC-certified arboreta in Tennessee.

Today Trevecca’s campus has 400 trees: 300 of them are tagged with botanical labels, and more than 70 species are represented. All species native to Tennessee now grow on the Trevecca campus. In recent years the University has planted 55 fruit trees; 25 were planted this year. This orchard provides fruit for consumption, and it serves as a “living classroom” in which Trevecca students, Metro Nashville Public School students, and the university’s neighbors can learn how to plant and nurture trees that provide healthful foods. In addition, University personnel will use these trees as stock for propagation so that it can share trees with neighboring schools. Trevecca now has a map of the campus with all trees located for self-guided walks, and a campus tree plan for maintenance of the trees and for future tree plantings.

Tree Campus USA was created in 2008 by the Arbor Day Foundation with support from Toyota. Through their partnership, the Arbor Day Foundation and Toyota have helped campuses throughout the country plant thousands of trees. Moreover, Tree Campus USA colleges and universities invested $23 million in campus forest management last year. More information about the program is available at arborday.org/TreeCampusUSA.