A group of Cal Poly students recently completed a campus beautification project, installing trees and a bench near the Mathematics and Science building. Courtesy photo
A group of Cal Poly students recently completed a campus beautification project, installing trees and a bench near the Mathematics and Science building. Courtesy photo

With summer sunshine rapidly approaching, students seeking shade on campus have the opportunity to enjoy the comfort of trees planted and a bench installed by forestry and national resource students.

Last week, the four year-long project created by two alternating classes, urban forestry and community forestry, marked successful completion with the addition of a plaque dedicated to the students involved. The installment is between the Alan A. Erhart Agriculture and Mathematics and Science buildings.

National resource management professor Richard Thompson said students learned how to get a plan approved and the complications involved in the process. Learning how to navigate the political and administrative policies to institute an environmental change was an important experience, he said.

“Planting a tree is a fairly simple act, but to do that in an urbanized environment is a big deal,” Thompson said.

Students presented their ideas to the director of facilities and the landscape advisory board at Cal Poly to be approved. The students had to consider aesthetic appeal on campus as well as prevent interference with any underground facilities.

Chinese Flame and Polonia, two types of subtropical tree species, were selected to be planted on the campus because California’s Mediterranean climate is appropriate for them.

Bill Kellogg, agriculture education and communication professor and a licensed contractor, provided help and technical support with the concrete portion of the project, which required pouring the cement foundation and constructing the bench.

Forestry and national resource senior Shane Larsen was one of the lead students involved in the project. The main goals of the project are to understand the health and social benefits and multiple uses that trees provide to the community, he said.

“People are drawn to trees for the protection and the coverage that they provide,” Larsen said. “The trees planted will hopefully shade the bench and make it a more comfortable environment.”

Larsen, president of the logging team at the time of the bench installment, received help with construction from many logging students, who helped form, frame and finish the project. Pavers were laid in front of the bench to match the rest of campus.

“It’s good to go through every stage of the process, from planning to digging holes and seeing the finished product. It was just a picture on a piece of paper before and now you can sit on it,” he said.

Thompson said that in addition to this project, forest and national resource students are also involved in providing management direction for Pismo Beach city parks.

“Students are always appreciative of classes where they can actually get out and help people and make a change in their environment,” he said. “The students can come back years later and say, ‘I planted that tree; I built that wall and look at all the shade it is providing the building and the people.’ I think it would make you feel proud.”

“I think it looks beautiful; I think it turned out to be a very pretty sitting area for anybody that’s going to want to sit down for a minute,” Kellogg said.

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