On the 150th anniversary of Arbor Day, Florida Tech facilities operations hosted a small gathering to celebrate two native Florida gumbo limbo trees planted in honor of the venerable observance.
Faculty, staff from Facilities Operations and elsewhere, students from the Sustainability Council, representatives from Melbourne’s Environmental Community Outreach Division and others gathered for the April 29 event near the statue of Jerry Keuper in the Academic Quad.
Wes Sumner, vice president for executive communication, told the group that Keuper, Florida Tech’s founding president, was well known for his fondness for palm trees — but that his interests and passion went beyond that.
“Looking at the wonderful work in the botanical garden, we think about the connections that have been made, how students have learned about the living world, the living lab that is this campus,” Sumner said. “The two trees we plant today symbolize that connection, going back to Dr. Keuper.”
The Arbor Day plantings are also a required step in the process of Florida Tech renewing its Tree Campus USA certification, which has lapsed since it was granted in 2014. The certification honors colleges and universities for effective campus forest management and for engaging staff and students in conservation goals.
Noting that the connections between humans and nature go back millennia, sustainability program manager and professor Ken Lindeman told the crowd that we are increasingly being led away from nature “by a variety of mechanisms.”
That is why Arbor Day was so important when it was first held in Nebraska in 1872, and why it remains so.
“Think of the visionary who identified one of the most iconic components of the American landscape — the tree — as the focus of celebration and the foundational recognition of the importance of nature,” he said.