SFA receives Tree Campus Higher Education recognition

NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Stephen F. Austin State University recently became a recognized member of Tree Campus Higher Education, and as a symbol of this distinction, students and faculty from the Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture presented an Arbor Day banner to the SFA Board of Regents during their meeting in April.

Tree Campus Higher Education is an Arbor Day Foundation program that recognizes colleges and universities for promoting healthy trees and engaging faculty, students and staff in conservation efforts. Since 2008, the program has strived to establish and support thriving community forests across the country.

As a newly recognized campus, SFA joins over 400 universities in the U.S. in planting thousands of trees each year. In 2022, SFA students, faculty, staff and administrators contributed 950 volunteer hours planting, mulching, pruning and evaluating tree care and health on campus.

To receive the recognition, SFA met five Tree Campus Higher Education standards, including forming an advisory committee, developing a care plan, allocating funds to the program, observing Arbor Day and completing a service-learning project.

Students and faculty applied a novel approach to meeting the standards by utilizing drones to hazard rate trees for mistletoe, crape myrtle bark scale and tree health.

“The use of drones is expanding in the tree care industry, and this use will continue to expand with better sensors, cameras and multispectral use,” said Dr. David Kulhavy, Laurence C. Walker Distinguished Professor of forestry.

In celebration of the Tree Campus Higher Education recognition, a drone video titled “The Colors of Fall Across Stephen F. Austin State University Campus” was also produced by Dr. Daniel Unger, Kenneth Nelson Distinguished Professor, and Victoria Williams, graduate research and teaching assistant, using a DJI Mavic 3 CINE drone.

“We are grateful to the Arbor Day Foundation for awarding SFA the Tree Campus Higher Education designation,” said Dr. Hans Williams, Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture dean. “Their recognition is a testimony to the 100-year commitment by the campus community and leadership to the outstanding learning and living environment at SFA.”

During the board meeting recognition, Kulhavy extended a special thanks to several departments and personnel that were influential in obtaining the recognition, including Williams; John Branch, Physical Plant Department director; and Chris Dempsey, SFA arborist.