News Releases

UWF earns recognition as 2020 Tree Campus Higher Education

The University of West Florida earned the 2020 Tree Campus Higher Education recognition by the Arbor Day Foundation. UWF also received the designation in 2019.

An Arbor Day Foundation program, Tree Campus Higher Education, formerly known as Tree Campus USA, honors colleges and universities and their leaders for effective campus forest management and for engaging staff and students in conservation goals.

“UWF’s original campus plans emphasized preserving its natural landscape,” said UWF President Martha D. Saunders. “This designation is a testament to the natural grandeur of our 1,600-acre campus. Our campus features a majestic canopy of trees that creates a stunning setting for living and learning.”

To obtain the distinction, UWF met the five core standards for an effective campus forest management, including establishment of a tree advisory committee, a campus tree-care plan, dedicated annual expenditures for its campus tree program, an Arbor Day observance and sponsorship of student service learning projects.

“Designation as a Tree Campus Higher Education is a great honor that reflects the commitment UWF has made to maintain and manage the health of our campus forest sustainably,” said Jeff Etheridge, a coordinator for buildings & grounds management within the facilities management department. “This achievement is the result of a lot of hard work by a dedicated team consisting of students, faculty, staff and community partners with the support and encouragement of President Martha Saunders.”

Etheridge said the UWF tree care plan provides the framework for the maintenance, protection and removal of campus trees. It includes guidelines for species selection, planting techniques and pruning requirements to ensure optimal health of the campus forest. Recommendations are provided for incorporating native or “Florida Friendly” trees into new buildings and renovation of existing landscapes. Also addressed are prohibited practices, goals and penalties for damage to campus trees.

Etheridge said other historic trees around campus make for unique classroom lessons and Arbor Day events.

“Unlike institutions with smaller footprints or those located in urban settings, UWF faculty and students can have an educational session under a 200-year-old live oak, or participate in a guided hike on one of our amazing trails,” Etheridge said. “This confluence of our natural surroundings and educational capacity really opens the door for creative events that showcase our campus forest.”

To learn more about the program, visit