President Green Announces Arboretum at Governors State University
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(University Park, Ill.) – Against a colorful backdrop of a natural prairie under a clear sky, Governors State University (GSU) President Cheryl Green celebrated Arbor Day by announcing the newly accredited Arboretum at the university.
"What a beautiful day to receive this distinction,'' Dr. Green said during a brief outdoor ceremony near the lake. Moments earlier Jamie Viebach, a community coordinator with Morton Arboretum , presented Dr. Green with a framed certificate, welcoming the university as a member of ArbNet, an accredited community committed to professional standards to plant and conserve trees across the world.
" As part of the Morton Register of Arboreta, you have an important role in our shared
purpose to plant and conserve trees, and accreditation in this work acknowledges your
commitment to and fulfillment of professional criteria,'' said Viebach, who earned her master's degree in Environmental Biology in 2013 from Governors State University.
“I am so proud and so pleased you are an alumna and your achievements and service to your profession have brought you back to the university with this distinction,” Dr. Green said to Viebach.
As a Level 1 site, the Arboretum at GSU joins venues such as golf courses and zoos to offer a home to more than 25 native species in a public space that promotes environmental stewardship and sustainability. Sitting on more than 750 acres, including the 100-acre award-winning Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park, the university is a home to a variety of plants and trees, as well as wildlife.
Nick Denault, a maintenance laborer with the university's Buildings and Grounds Department, joined John Potempa, Associate Vice President of Facilities Development and Management, and Scott Smith, Building and Grounds Superintendent, to secure the arboretum certification. Before joining the university’s grounds crew in 2020, Denault spent 20 years working in the dairy farm industry across the state. He said caring for animals and devising nonconventional methods to create animal feed fostered a love of plants and nature.
The Arboretum at GSU is a dream realized for a someone who reveres nature at a time when the climate presents harsh challenges. “Trees are an important way to sequester carbon emissions, ‘’ said Denault. “These trees also provide a natural habitat for wildlife on campus, as well as a scenic place for people to come together and enjoy nature.”
Denault said the ArbNet certification offers resources to maintain industry standards for professional practice as the university expands its collection of trees. The ultimate goal would be to offer more hiking and walking trails, as well as the opportunity to earn an arborist certification, he said. “I think that would be pretty cool.”
ArbNet comprises 2,193 gardens across the world that shares knowledge, experience, and other resources to advance Morton's mission for a greener, healthier, and more beautiful world. Learn more about the Arboretum at Governors State and other public gardens across the world here.