The University of Central Florida campus boasts numerous diverse species of trees that help to create the beautiful landscape of UCF.

UCF celebrated an early Arbor Day on March 17 by inviting students to take a walking tree tour around the main campus, plant new trees by the pond near Garage H and a second tour of Lake Claire’s nature trail.

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Approximately 70 students participated throughout the day. Nine maple and nine cypress trees were planted with a grand total of $1,700.

The event began at 12:30 p.m. with the walking tree tour and concluded with the nature trail around 3:30 p.m. Led by UCF’s Arboretum, students were able to view campus landscapes and the Arboretum natural lands while learning about the different species of trees.

 Numerous University of Central Florida students and staff celebrate UCF's Arbor Day on March 17 by planting native trees at the pond near Garage H. Students also engaged in learning through a walking tree tour around campus and a nature trail at Lake Claire.
Numerous University of Central Florida students and staff celebrate UCF’s Arbor Day on March 17 by planting native trees at the pond near Garage H. Students also engaged in learning through a walking tree tour around campus and a nature trail at Lake Claire.

Arboretum Program Coordinator Jennifer Elliott said Arbor Day was observed because UCF is a certified Tree Campus USA and as part of that certification UCF is required to have an annual Arbor Day celebration. Along with this annual celebration, campus is required to have engaged students in service-learning events.

“Every year we try to go to a different part of campus and we’re trying to plant different native trees just because we’re always trying to teach students something new,” Elliott said. “For the students who are here for all four years we don’t want them to have the same experience every year.”

According to Elliott, Orlando is a very urban environment and so Arbor Day is a huge opportunity to educate students about urban ecology and trees.

“We’re going to have to be able to manage our land well, plant smart, understand hydrology and species diversity. It gives us an opportunity to teach students those things and have them apply that knowledge. I also think it’s important for them to actually put these trees in the ground,” Elliott continued.

UCF sophomore, Cidina Matamoros, and senior, Shelby Anderson, were among the students who participated in the Arbor Day festivities. According to Matamoros, an environmental science major, she has always had a love for the environment and learning something new.

“Getting to plant the trees was a lot of fun and it was a lot easier than I thought it was going to be,” Matamoros said. “This kind of thing is really important to me.”

 Numerous University of Central Florida students and staff celebrate UCF's Arbor Day on March 17 by planting native trees at the pond near Garage H. Students also engaged in learning through a walking tree tour around campus and a nature trail at Lake Claire.
Numerous University of Central Florida students and staff celebrate UCF’s Arbor Day on March 17 by planting native trees at the pond near Garage H. Students also engaged in learning through a walking tree tour around campus and a nature trail at Lake Claire.

Aside from the tours and planting native trees, students were able to enjoy pizza at the Lake Claire Pavilion and participate in a tree giveaway. There were extra trees to take home by the end of the event so students were told to help themselves, Anderson said.

“I love walking around our campus and knowing a certain tree and being able to point it out or fruit on a tree,” Anderson said. “I think that’s very insightful and it’s just little wisdom that you can pass on to anyone else on campus walking by.”

UCF’s Arbor Day worked closely with the College of Sciences in order to promote the celebration and will continue to grow moving forward, according to Elliott.

“It was nice this year because one of the reasons we chose this pond is because it’s close to the Alumni Center,” Elliott said, “I was saying to them now when you all graduate you can tell your parents I planted those trees.”