Student volunteers plant over 120 trees outside of Laurel Hall. Photo courtesy of Tyler Sytsma.

UNC Charlotte students made an eco-friendly impact Wednesday as they planted over 120 trees outside of Laurel Hall at the inaugural Tree Campus USA Day.

Tree Campus USA Day is the campus version of Arbor Day, which falls on the last Friday of April.

The national program Tree Campus USA honors colleges that effectively manage trees and engage students in the process.

UNC Charlotte received their third Tree Campus USA recognition in February, which is earned by reaching five standards: a campus tree advisory committee, a campus tree care plan, a campus tree, an observance of Arbor Day and a service learning project.

“We have a growing sustainability priority on campus so instead of it just being the Earth Day festival that we did for one day during the month, we’ve spread it into more events so students and organizations can get involved accordingly,” University Sustainability Coordinator Tyler Systma said.

A ceremonial hickory tree was planted at the front entrance of the University, in front of Levine Hall, and is expected to grow up to 90 feet high and live for 80-90 years.

There were around 20 students volunteers, many of whom were encouraged to attend by professors.

The tree planting was followed by a lecture on urban forestry by Director of Philanthropy and Special Projects Dave Cable from TreesCharlotte, an organization that works to plant and preserve trees.

Sytsma said next year he wants to see increased student involvement.

To be more eco-friendly, Systma suggests students explore their transit options, especially the upcoming light rail and bike rental system. He also suggests students join organizations such as UNC Charlotte Earth Club or UNC Charlotte Garden Club.

The tree planting kicked off a series of events that will occur during Earth Month, including Campus Cleanup on April 12 and the Earth Day Festival on April 19.

UNC Charlotte Earth Club will be screening Leonardo DiCaprio’s “Before the Flood” on April 17.

The University is also currently rewriting the sustainability plan that will address environmental issues that the campus faces as it continues to grow.

“There is that fine balance between having a campus that meets all of our academic needs as well as being one that values the environment and biodiversity,” Systma said.

To learn more about UNC Charlotte Earth Month events, visit

To learn more about the upcoming sustainability plan workshops, visit

Alexandria Sands is the Niner Times' community editor. She is a senior majoring in Communication Studies with a double minor in Journalism and English. Her work has been published in Charlotte magazine, The Charlotte Business Journal, Creative Loafing, The Gaston Gazette, The Shelby Star and The State Port Pilot. When she's not in the newsroom, you can catch her reading a book at her home in Oak Island. Reach her at or @alexsands_.