HIGH POINT, N.C., April 25, 2014 – The High Point University family and local community celebrated Arbor Day, a national holiday that encourages groups and individuals to plant and care for trees, with a special ceremony in the David Hayworth Park on April 24.
HPU was also presented with the Tree Campus USA designation by David Masters, Guilford County Ranger for the North Carolina Department of Agriculture Forest Service. This marks the fifth consecutive year that the university has been honored as a Tree Campus USA. Originating in 2008 from a partnership between the Arbor Day Foundation and Toyota Motor North America, the program is designed to recognize college campuses for promoting healthy urban forest management and engaging the campus community in environmental stewardship. HPU is one of six campuses in the state to receive the award.
Now covering 380 acres and expanding every year, the HPU campus boasts 22 gardens, 350 different types of trees and 50,000 flower bulbs planted annually.
“The phenomenal growth we’ve experienced is exciting,” said Jon Roethling, curator of grounds. “It’s simply amazing what we’ve done over the years.”
The Mariana H. Qubein Arboretum and Botanical Gardens have provided an outside learning lab for students, as well as engaging volunteer opportunities for community members such as Raylene Fealy. Fealy has volunteered her time to plant and cultivate gardens on campus for several years.
“When you are a community volunteer, you expect to get a lot back from your work,” said Fealy at the event. “I made many friends here, including Mariana, Jon and his team, and have never worked with anymore more talented and knowledgeable. Everything I put in has come back to me tenfold. While I’m not a student here, I certainly received an extraordinary education in an inspiring environment with caring people through this opportunity. This campus is a happy place where you can come when you want to see what ‘extraordinary’ means.”
The celebration also recognized HPU Zeta Tau Alpha member Courtney Peck for her sorority’s efforts in renovating the High Point Greenway, transforming the portion of the High Point Greenway that runs by campus into a memorial walkway to honor those affected by cancer.
Dr. Nido Qubein, HPU president, said the importance of the gardens and the work of Mariana Qubein, first lady of HPU who has spear-headed the growth of the arboretum, has brought the entire community together.
“The way Mariana has involved us all, through students enjoying our gardens, faculty using the gardens as a learning tool, and bringing the community to our campus is amazing,” said Qubein. “She has brought together our city through her work.”
Attendees to the Arbor Day celebration received free reusable grocery bags from the HPU Green Team and dahlia flower bulbs to plant around the city of High Point.
During the ceremony, HPU professors discussed how the gardens help enhance their class assignments, including providing a non-traditional classroom setting for art students in a site-specific sculpture class, as well as teaching biology majors how to identify different plant life.
Arbor Day originated in 1872 in Nebraska City, Neb. by J. Sterling Morton.