NORFOLK, Neb. – Students in the Horticulture and Golf Course Management program at Northeast Community College participated in an event recently that recognized communities for their tree planting efforts. The City of Norfolk Tree Advisory Board invited the Nebraska Arbor Day Foundation and the Nebraska Forest Service to hold their Tree City USA Awards ceremony in the community to recognize work that has been occurring across eastern Nebraska.
“They gave us the opportunity to bring all of our students today to listen and to see how they can be involved in these local communities and tree boards in the work that they do,” said Dr. Trentee Bush, horticulture instructor at Northeast.
The Arbor Day Foundation reports that Tree City USA, which began in 1976, is one of its oldest programs. The first Tree City USA cohort was comprised of 42 communities in 16 states. Today, the program includes more than 3,600 communities from all 50 states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico. The Nebraska Forest Service reports that approximately 110 towns in Nebraska are certified as Tree City USA communities. In 2021, nearly 942,000 trees were planted in the certified communities across the country.
The benefits of trees are numerous. They help absorb the sounds of traffic in urban areas by 40%, neighborhoods with trees are seven-to-nine degrees cooler than those without, trees reduce energy costs up to 25% by shading buildings and protecting them from winter winds, homes with trees have higher property values, green space plays a major role in improving mental and physical health, and planting and maintaining trees absorbs carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, mitigating the effects of climate change.
Bush said work with one of Nebraska’s vital resources is also important to colleges as they train students to become employed in associated fields.
“Tree City USA and the Tree Campus USA designations are significant because they show that your community, whether it's a city or campus, has made the commitment to invest in trees and to invest in the aesthetics that trees bring, as well as all the other benefits they produce.”
At the ceremony in Norfolk, awards were presented to cities that have had made meaningful infrastructure improvements toward increasing the number of trees or making a commitment to forming a tree board.
“There's just so many opportunities that Tree City and Arbor Day Foundation provide to show that they are putting in the work and beautification efforts into the canopy structure in these communities,” Bush said.
Bush and Erin Kucera, biology instructor at Northeast, serve on the Norfolk Tree Advisory Board whose nine members advise elected officials and staff on landscaping and tree planting in the community.
The board’s duties include coordinating educational events about the benefits of trees, set up pruning demonstrations, assist with public information handouts, and assist City of Norfolk Arborist Lindsey Kudera in applying for tree planting or landscaping grants, among others.
Northeast’s horticulture program focuses on developing skills in golf course grounds and clubhouse management, sports fields, lawn care, nursery, and garden center management, greenhouse production, landscape management practices, and business and personnel development practices. Kudera is a graduate of the program.
To learn more, visit, northeast.edu/degrees-and-programs/horticulture-and-golf-course-management.
Northeast Community College Horticulture and Golf Course Management students Kaleb Wragge, Custer, So. Dak. (left), and Kirby Smith, Fullerton, visit with Lindsey Kudera, arborist for the City of Norfolk, during an event that recognized communities for their tree planting efforts. The City of Norfolk Tree Advisory Board invited the Nebraska Arbor Day Foundation and the Nebraska Forest Service to hold their Tree City USA Awards ceremony in the community to recognize work that has been occurring across eastern Nebraska.