Photo Feature: UCCS fulfills COS150 Tree Planting Challenge

Alumni volunteers plant a sapling along Clyde Way.

In celebration of Colorado Springs’ 150th anniversary, more than 50 students, alumni and friends of the university gathered on campus on April 24 and May 1 to plant trees, fulfilling UCCS’ commitment to the COS150 Tree Planting Challenge.

As part of its sesquicentennial celebrations, the City of Colorado Springs city set a goal to plant 18,071 trees over the next two years. UCCS committed to plant 150 saplings on campus, the last 30 of which were planted by alumni and friends of the university during Saturday’s event. Some of the varieties planted include swamp white oak, snow crabapple, princeton elm, linden greenspire, bur oak, thornless cockspur hawthorn and hackberry.

Student volunteers dig deep to plant the roots of a future tree canopy at UCCS.

“This goal could not have been achieved without all our campus and community partners, including the Colorado Tree Coalition, Harding Nursery, City Forestry, UCCS Alumni Office, UCCS Outdoor Services, UCCS’ Reisher Scholars and UCCS University Advancement,” said Kimberly Reeves, interim director of sustainability at UCCS. “Trees are an amazing way to create a sense of place, and they provide so many ecological benefits, create positive economic impact and support personal well-being. Imagine your favorite place on campus, and it usually is surrounded or framed by trees!”

The UCCS Alumni Relations and Annual Giving Office, in partnership with the UCCS Office of Sustainability, welcomed 27 alumni and friends to the northwest side of campus for the first in-person alumni and friend event since March 2020. The Office of Alumni Relations’ new volunteer program, launched by Liz Bunkers, alumni relations engagement specialist, in October 2020, helped to bring alumni and friends of the university to campus for the event.

“Bringing our alumni and friends to campus to plant trees provided a safe, yet meaningful opportunity for them to donate their time back to UCCS,” Bunkers said. “We are thrilled to be able to partner with the Office of Sustainability and look forward to offering more volunteer opportunities in partnership with their office soon.”

Ten of UCCS’ Reisher Scholars, in-state resident students who demonstrate outstanding merit, also volunteered for the initiative, supported by Tamarinde Doane, senior scholarship coordinator. The group is also working with UCCS Facility Services to plant a “statement tree” near Cragmor Hall to replace a large pine that fell in a January 2017 windstorm. 

To support the COS150 challenge, UCCS volunteers planted over 150 trees, including 86 trees at the William J. Hybl Sports Medicine and Performance Center, 40 trees along Clyde Way and 30 trees near Mountain Lion Field, the Ent Center for the Arts and the pathway leading to the Mountain Lion Park.

Alumni and friends interested in giving back to UCCS are encouraged to visit the new volunteer engagement website to learn more about future volunteer opportunities. To get more involved with the city’s 150th birthday celebrations or to learn more about planting your own tree, learn more on the City of Colorado Springs website. Those interested in getting involved in sustainability can learn more on the Office of Sustainability website.

And if any community members wish to participate in the COS150 Challenge by planting their own trees, there are plenty of helpful resources available. Learn how to care for your trees, which tree varieties thrive in Colorado and how to add your new trees to the city’s Tree Tracker online.

See photos from the tree planting below.

The Colorado Tree Coalition awarded $43,298 in grants to 15 organizations in 2020 thanks to funding from the CTC, the Xcel Energy Foundation and the Xcel Energy Vegetation Management Program. With matching funds, this helped plant 780 trees across Colorado. Since 1991, the Colorado Tree Coalition has awarded 528 grants totaling more than a million dollars, resulting in more than 75,000 trees being planted throughout the state.