WSU’s campus is definitely a place of beauty; the well-kept landscape and vibrant colors make the university memorable to everyone in its space. Many of the beautiful elements on the campus grounds (the gazebo, benches, gardens near the PAC and Gildemeister Hall, Lauren’s Pond and more) were donated.

This brings me to the topic of trees on campus… can you imagine what our campus would look like without them? WSU takes a lot of pride and care in the greenery on campus, and there are many things you might not know about the trees and landscape you walk past every day. Here are some facts:

1) Many of the trees on campus have been donated. Tree donations started happening shortly after the streets that used to run through campus were transformed in the early 1990s into the wide sidewalks we use today.

2) The WSU Landscape Arboretum Committee was formed to further beautify campus. The Landscape Arboretum continues to develop the campus to be representative of the diverse southeastern Minnesota biome. It also promotes this unique landscape on the grounds, creates opportunities for the campus to be used as a living classroom, continues to develop the native species on campus and models ethical use of land and practices.

3) WSU’s Arboretum director is a landscape architect who manages a specialized staff. Lisa Pearson manages, along with Allison Quam, a staff that includes a horticulturist, turf and irrigation specialist and a certified arborist.

4) A complete tree inventory has recently been done of the campus, and the numbers are impressive. The inventory reveals there are more than 1,500 trees on WSU’s campus comprised of 143 species.

5) A settlement after using toxic fertilizer from a corporation funded a rapid restoration of the entire university landscape. After WSU used lawn fertilizer from a company that was mistakenly toxic to trees, the university lost around 100 trees. The settlement money WSU received from the lawsuit went towards the restoration that involved a couple dozen people from firms.

6) WSU has been recognized as a Tree Campus USA . This is due to the time and effort the Arboretum has dedicated to the planting and maintenance of trees on campus and involvement in Arbor Day activities.

7) The Arboretum sponsors tree tours. To educate the public and its students about the trees on campus, tree tours are offered in the summer and fall months.

8) The trees on campus are scannable! Many of the trees on the grounds display a label with its respective popular name, scientific name and a QR code to scan and give smartphone users more information and photos about the species of tree.

9) The garden in front of the PAC is in honor of the Indigenous tribes of Winona. This garden is also meant to teach students about the land that the University was built on. The garden is full of native flora for students to explore.

10) Winona State has a student Green Fee included in tuition to help maintain and fund new green spaces on campus. This fee gives anyone that is part of the Winona State University community the opportunity to propose green projects for campus.

Read the article I wrote for Winona360, a showcase for student journalism, about campus beautification over the years.