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UND receives recognition from Arbor Day Foundation as a leading campus for trees

To commemorate the recognition and at the same time celebrate Arbor Day, about 40 UND students, administrators, faculty and staff members gathered on the lawn near the Hopper Danley Spiritual Center on Wednesday afternoon, May 11.

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(From left) UND horticulturist Melissa Grafenauer, UND VP of Finance and Operations Jed Shivers, State Forester Thomas Claeys, and Campus Arborist Jared Johnson plant a Princeton Elm on the UND campus near the Hopper-Danley Chapel Wednesday on State Arbor Day.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
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GRAND FORKS — UND has earned the 2022 Tree Campus Higher Education recognition from the Arbor Day Foundation for efforts to nurture trees across campus grounds.

To commemorate the recognition, and at the same time celebrate Arbor Day, about 40 UND students, administrators, faculty and staff members gathered on the lawn near the Hopper Danley Spiritual Center on Wednesday afternoon, May 11. After a brief round of speeches, which were preceded by the singing of the national anthem and the posting of the colors by the Grand Forks Air Force Base Color Guard, attendees watched the planting of three trees, a Princeton Elm, a Prairie Cascade Willow and a Pink Crabapple.

“I just want to say thanks to our partners and (they are) the Arbor Day Foundation, the Campus Tree Advisory Committee, the Grand Forks Air Force Base Color Guard … the NDSU North Dakota Forest Service, Towner State Nursery and the U.S. Forest Service,” said Jed Shivers, vice president for finance and operations at UND.

UND previously received the recognition in 2020, along with three other college campuses in the North Dakota University System.

Shivers said the celebration of the recognition and the tree planting ceremony fell on the 150th year of Arbor Day, which began in Nebraska on April 10, 1872.


Speaking after Shivers, Thomas Claeys, state forester with the North Dakota Forest Service, said Grand Forks has a “great dedication” to Arbor Day. Claeys said anyone can participate in tree-planting, and the act can have a healing effect on people.

“It's something that allows us again to slow down, to stop and to not listen to the noise for just a little bit,” he said.

Bill Sheridan, a biology professor, made sure to point out several old Cottonwood trees, trees he said predated the existence of UND and with care, will continue to grow for years.

Sheridan became emotional when he spoke of his friend Eric Bergeson, who died in early April, after a struggle with depression and anxiety. Bergeson was the former owner of Bergeson Nursery, near Fertile, Minnesota.

Sheridan said an important lesson that can be learned from Bergeson’s life is to be kind to one another. One way to do that, he said, is to continue efforts to beautify the UND campus not only by planting trees, but by doing so in a cooperative manner.

“We want to make this an even more beautiful and outstanding university,” Sheridan said.

To become recognized as a Tree Campus Higher Education institution, UND had to meet the Arbor Day Foundation’s standards for effective campus forest management. Those standards include: having a tree advisory committee, a tree-care plan, annual expenditure for its campus tree program and a student learning project.

According to the foundation, in 2020 392 campuses received the recognition, with 26,563 trees planted and with 30, 693 students engaged in the project.



Adam Kurtz is the community editor for the Grand Forks Herald. He covers higher education and other topics in Grand Forks County and the city.

Kurtz joined the Herald in July 2019. He covered business and county government topics before covering higher education and some military topics.

Tips and story ideas are welcome. Get in touch with him at, or DM at @ByAdamKurtz.

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