A small kiosk with maps and information was recently placed at the corner of Foust Park nearest the Alumni House. The map invites you to start near Foust Building at Tree 1, a Northern Red Oak, and make a large circle in the park until returning near your starting point at Tree 40, a Kousa Dogwood.
UNCG has been lauded as a Tree Campus USA university for five years straight, due to its tree conservation and student engagement in forestry/grounds initiatives. Students often remark on the natural beauty of the UNCG campus. And they can often be seen reading or practicing under the shade of a tree.
One student spurred this project forward – Anneliese Hitcho, an upperclassman working in UNCG’s Office of Sustainability. “I wanted a map,” she explains. She created one. “I wanted a kiosk too.” Mike Moser in UNCG Carpentry built one along with the paint shop, and with Facilities Design and Construction’s consultation. Trey McDonald, UNCG’s sustainability coordinator, was instrumental in securing the funding. The park has become a botanical learning area for students and passersby, says Kevin Siler, UNCG Grounds’ Tree Campus USA point person. He has been very involved.
The idea originated with Chris Fay, longtime director of Grounds at UNCG, who was nearing retirement last year and selected most of the trees. It was a goal he wanted to accomplish before his retirement. Hal Shelton, a longtime employee of Grounds and now the assistant director, took over after Chris’s retirement and has been an avid proponent of the project.
Rhonda Strader in Facilities Design & Construction (FDC), who is the geographic information systems (GIS) manager for UNCG, played a role. “The location and types of trees on campus is one of my data sets,” she says. Fred Patrick, FDC director, was involved in the project as well.
Hitcho, who graduated in May, double-majored in Environmental Studies and Geography, with a concentration in GIS. “I love making maps,” a love spurred by Dr. Jeffrey Patton’s cartography course when she was a junior. She now works at Fort Bragg in environmental work, and looks to continue her education. The project has changed her career focus. “Working with Kevin Siler changed my life – with his passion for trees.”
Hitcho’s favorite tree? Number 6 – Harry Lauders Walking Stick. The small tree is at the corner of College Avenue and Spring Garden. “It looks like a bush. It catches your eye. The leaves are really fuzzy.”
Siler’s favorite is nearby, Number 7 – Flowering Dogwood. Great looking dogwoods need some shade, he says, and this one gets the right amount. “This spring it was so full of blooms.”
The trees’ signs are in place. The kiosk has a fresh supply of maps. And with the rains and temperate weather in recent weeks, the park has never looked better. So come, enjoy – and learn some names (and botanical names too). And see which tree is your favorite.
By Mike Harris