WKU recognized for campus landscape

A student walks between Northeast Hall and Grise Hall Monday, Sept. 7. WKU was the only Kentucky school to be recognized by the National Wildlife Federation Guide for the university’s role in protecting wildlife and restoring habitats in campus green space on and off campus.

Samantha Wright

The landscape of WKU has received much recognition over the past year. 

In January, WKU was recognized for its nationally accredited arboretum. In April, WKU was awarded a Green Ribbon award. Now, the National Wildlife Federation recognized WKU in a publication celebrating green college campuses. 

“The Campus Wild: How College and University Green Landscapes Provide Havens for Wildlife and ‘Lands-on’ Experiences for Students” was released Sept. 8. It showcased 85 colleges from all 50 states and Washington, D.C., and praised WKU in the opening section. The article discussed colleges that make a substantial and concentrated effort to protect and encourage the habitat and wildlife around them as well as take part in environmentally friendly practices. 

The guide lauded WKU in particular for its practice of planting regional native plants and trees, its water-efficient plantings, its irrigation system and its “Integrated Pest Management” program. 

Christian Ryan, coordinator of the Office of Sustainability, said this recognition highlights WKU’s hard work to be environmentally friendly.  

“[Being recognized] means that we’re doing something really right, and to keep working and displaying these environmental stewardship practices,” she said. “It shows our commitment to be part of a program we think is important.”

She added that the campus’s beauty is also important. 

“People like to walk on our campus just because it’s beautiful,” she said. “It helps promote a sense of happiness and well-being to be on a campus as beautiful as ours.”

Leah Hopwood, campus arborist, said students should care about this recognition not only because it affects them but because when the environment is clean, focus is easier.

“I would think students would care because it’s their world, their environment, their life. Everything around you affects you,” she said. “If you have a cluttered life, then you can’t think straight, so when things are in order it helps you do things in a better fashion.”

She added that having the campus recognized is very fulfilling for her and her coworkers.

“When it’s recognized, it makes it all worth it,” she said. 

Joshua Twardowski, campus services manager, said in an email this recognition shows WKU’s dedication to green practices.

“This recognition is very important to WKU for several reasons. Primarily, it gives the university one more national recognition for our campus landscape diversity and WKU’s commitment to ecology, habit creation, biodiversity and environmental stewardship,” he said.

He added having green campuses helps attract students and also provides a healthy living and learning environment for current students.

“Attracting prospective students and retaining our current students is the most critical part of our mission,” he said. “When the campus is clean and aesthetically appealing, it creates a positive learning environment and makes the students feel safe and proud to be a Hilltopper,” he said.