University of the Cumberlands has been named a 2020 Tree Campus Higher Education institution by the National Arbor Day Foundation. It’s the fifth consecutive year for the school to receive this designation. The recognition honors colleges and universities and their leaders for promoting healthy trees and engaging students and staff in the spirit of conservation.

“University of the Cumberlands’ entire campus community should be proud of this work and of the committee,” said Dan Lambe, president of the Arbor Day Foundation, in a letter to Cumberlands President Dr. Larry Cokcrum.

The university’s Campus Tree Committee has organized Arbor Day and Earth Day activities for the past few years to boost campus awareness of the importance of trees to both the beauty of the campus as well as the campus’ overall ecological health. In 2020, students visited university-owned land off State Route 92 – land that had once been strip-mined – and assisted in planting trees. In total, more than 70,000 trees were planted on the land that year. On Cumberlands’ campus, approximately 70 trees have been planted in the past few years, all native Kentucky species.

“The trees enhance the beauty of the buildings, they encourage students to spend time outdoors and people from the community to walk around campus, and they speak to the hope of stately trees in years to come,” said Dr. Yetter, current chair of the Campus Tree Committee. “They also provide an outdoor learning environment for our biology courses. Tree Campus recognition binds us together, university and community, in a way that few other things can.”

An array of pin oaks, tulip poplars, sweetgum trees, sassafras, persimmons, sycamores, black gum trees, eastern hemlocks, willow oaks, magnolia trees, and more native Kentucky species are currently dotted across Cumberlands’ campus. The Tree Campus Committee will continue coordinating with the Department of Operations over the coming years to ensure that more Kentucky-native species replace non-native species as they naturally die out. This helps protect the native trees from potential risks brought through foreign trees (certain bugs, diseases, etc.) while also bolstering the natural ecosystem as animals native to the area use the trees for food and shelter.

To learn more about the Arbor Day Foundation, visit For more information about Cumberlands’ biology program, visit

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