Thirty students from Oak Ridge High School – a Title I school that serves an economically disadvantaged population – will visit UCF on Friday to learn about the value of urban trees and conservation.

Representatives of the university’s Arboretum and Department of Landscape and Natural Resources will teach them how to plant native trees during a hands-on demonstration. They’ll plant three oaks in the Arboretum, and also go on a guided hike through the campus’ natural lands to learn about the value of urban trees and conservation.

The event celebrates upcoming Arbor Day, and is funded through a “ Tree Campus USA” award by the Arbor Day Foundation. has partnered with the Arbor Day Foundation and Tree Campus USA to plant 10,000 trees along routes and on college campuses.

Oak Ridge High School has an AmeriCorps team on campus that supports at-risk students with tutoring and mentoring. The school also has a Recycling Club, but lacks support to meet the needs of the students, especially when it comes to environmental education and awareness. The Oak Ridge High School Recycling Club and the AmeriCorps team will have the opportunity to engage and collaborate with UCF’s Arboretum for this Arbor Day Celebration. This will be an enriching experience for all students involved.

The UCF Arboretum is a creative learning community that uses the UCF campus as a comprehensive outdoor laboratory to support relevant experience-based learning, and human connections with ecosystems and landscapes.  The Arboretum program contributes to student development and engagement through multi-faceted volunteer, and service-learning opportunities.  They serve the community through partnership and outreach initiatives that increase awareness and understanding of key issues in ecology, natural resource conservation, and urban horticulture.

UCF’s 1,415-acre urban campus includes 876 acres of undeveloped green space that includes 337 acres of upland and wetland conservation easements, and an additional 539 acres of natural areas that have long-term preservation commitments.  UCF has been a certified Tree Campus USA since 2011, and was one of the first Tree Campus USA sites in Florida. UCF’s urban campus provides us a unique opportunity to expose college students and the local community to the principles of urban ecology, urban forestry, and land management techniques in an urban environment.