USM places in Arbor Day contest


Southern Miss was one of the top schools for the Tree Campus USA Contest among other schools around the country.

Caption: Southern Miss was one of the top schools for the Tree Campus USA Contest among other schools around the country. – Susan Broadbridge/Photo Editor

The University of Southern Mississippi and its supporters have once again proven their dedication to the university, this time through participation in an Arbor Day program, which brought the school $500 and a cache of Arbor Day items.

Southern Miss recently participated in an online voting competition with the Arbor Day Foundation called the Tree Campus USA Contest. According to the Arbor Day Foundation’s website, Tree Campus USA is a program that “helps colleges and universities around the country establish and sustain healthy community forests.”

Southern Miss was one of many schools which participated in the competition. The top five schools in each category, large schools and small schools, won cash and material prizes to help participate in Arbor Day festivities.

Due to great support from the community, Southern Miss received thousands of votes and soared above its competitors to be one of the top schools. Southern Miss and Colorado State University battled throughout the competition to receive the most votes overall.

In the past, Southern Miss has shown its dedication to beautification of campus through its flora. The school is famous for the All-American Rose Garden and the oak trees which graced the front of campus prior to the February 2013 tornado were a mighty sight to behold.

Since the loss of these trees, the university has attempted to replace the oaks and has been able to do so by planting several trees across campus.

Rhea Valentine, a junior therapeutic recreation major, expressed her lament that she did not get the chance to support Southern Miss in this endeavor.

“I was not aware (of the competition), but I wish I had been; I would have voted,” Valentine said. “It’s a really good thing that people want to beautify the school. Maybe we could use (the money) for some type of neat tree, like if we need to replace the willow tree.”

If it is possible to spend the money from the Foundation indoors, Blake Watson, a junior nursing major, would prefer to see the money go to an academic program that is not as funded as other programs.

“The business department, for example, gets a lot of funding from their successful (alumni) while, say, the psychology department gets less funding because it’s not well known on Southern’s campus,” Watson said.

But if the money must be used specifically for beautification, Watson supports spending more money at the front of campus, allocating it for the Native American garden behind the LAB.

“Even the plants that are used by the botany students at Walker Science could use funding, I bet,” Watson said.

Arbor Day, celebrated in late spring in either April or May, is meant to encourage tree planting across the United States and other countries and began in 1972.