A Great Place to Grow

  • Chandler Ashburn '22
  • Chandler Ashburn '22

When did you last stop—really stop—to admire a tree? Today, the 150th annual celebration of Arbor Day, would be a great day to start.

Variety of trees and shrubs in the foreground with Old Main's east side in the background

Nebraska Wesleyan’s campus has long been known for its beauty and aesthetic nature—specifically its wide variety of trees. In 1979, Nebraska Wesleyan’s Alice Abel Arboretum was recognized by the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum Organization. Named in honor of a generous and committed trustee, Alice Abel, who provided 64 new trees to the campus, the arboretum now features over 100 species of trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants. Greenery lines the buildings and canopies shade the sidewalks, providing all members of the NWU community a welcoming and inspiring setting in which to grow.

Arbor Day, the national tree planting holiday, was established in 1872 just 50 miles from Nebraska Wesleyan’s campus in Nebraska City. On that day, over 1 million trees were planted. A century later, the Arbor Day Foundation was founded to carry out the goals of Arbor Day on a year-round basis. In the last 50 years, the Arbor Day Foundation has planted and distributed over 500 million trees in nearly 50 countries.

The great work of the Arbor Day Foundation is carried out by dedicated employees, many of whom are Nebraska Wesleyan University alumni. In January of 2022, Dan Lambe (’92) was appointed as the CEO of the Arbor Day Foundation after serving the organization in various roles for the past 17 years. He follows fellow alumnus Matt Harris (’93), who served the Arbor Day Foundation for 18 years and led as CEO from 2014 until handing off the reigns to Dan in January. Current intern and graduating senior, Chandler Ashburn (’22) said of her time at NWU and the Arbor Day Foundation, “NWU has prepared me to excel beyond just my work, but with my co-worker relationships too. From interns to the CEO, Nebraska Wesleyan Alumni walk the halls of the Foundation and provide me with an instant network and mentorship.” Chandler will continue her great work at the Arbor Day Foundation as a full-time employee this May.

Arbor Day 150

NWU’s relationship with the Arbor Day Foundation does not stop there. Since the formation of the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree Campus USA program in 2008, Nebraska Wesleyan University has been recognized as a green campus. Universities recognized as Tree Campuses meet five standards set by the Arbor Day Foundation: maintain a tree advisory committee, create a campus tree care plan, dedicate annual expenditures to trees, observe Arbor Day and create a service-learning project with the student body in mind.

Additionally, Nebraska Wesleyan partners with the Arbor Day Foundation to serve shade-grown coffee in the Common Ground Café on the 2nd floor of Acklie Hall of Science. Shade-grown farming practices help protect entire ecosystems and prevent deforestation.

The Arbor Day Foundation’s mission extends beyond Arbor Day itself. “My co-workers are not only great mentors, but live and breathe the Foundation’s mission— to inspire people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees,” said Chandler. “Trees are the solution to many issues our world is facing today, and I am so grateful I get to contribute to a Foundation that is making planting trees possible.”

From your friends at Nebraska Wesleyan—Happy Arbor Day!