Tech receives Tree Campus USA designation

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Tech was recently accredited with a title of Tree Campus USA by the Arbor Day Foundation. This is the ninth straight year that Tech has received this recognition. Hyacinth Ide, Associate Director for Landscaping and Fleet Services, thinks the award is important because it recognizes Tech as an institute that sees the importance in passing down knowledge about trees from one generation to the next. Ide said that “it’s a program that helps put employees and students to improve their understanding of environmental stewardship.”

Ide said, “My function is everything outside except for electrical stuff.” Although Mr. Ide’s first name is that of a fragrant flower, he says he wasn’t born to work in landscaping. “My parents had a friend named Hyacinth back in Nigeria. When I was born, I was named after that man.”

Ide views trees as a valuable resource that many do not undestand how they may be helping us. For example, trees save people money. Part of a person’s water bill is paying for running your water through the stormwater system.

Ide said that “the amount of water that goes into the storm drain translates into the money you waste because you pay the city; trees absorb this water by intercepting the rainfall and slowing it down so it can be absorbed by the soil.”

The presence of trees can also lower one’s electric bill.

“If you plant the trees in the right direction, they will provide shade in the summer month and make your energy bill less. In the summer months, trees lose their leaves and allow heat into the home,” Ide said.

While overseeing landscaping and fleet services, Ide is also busy with several projects. One of these projects is “treecycling.” This advanced recycling takes trees that need to be removed and utilizes the lumber instead of sending it to a landfill. An example of this is in the Engineering Biosystems Building (EBB) where two large red oaks had to be removed to make way for the building.

“We kept the logs and had those logs milled, and the stairs you go up in the building are made from that lumber,” Ide said.

Ide is also responsible for the urban agriculture that will take place at Tech’s Living Building, which is under development.

“We are going back to the 1800s. All of the combustion engines we use will not be used at that facility, mostly physical labor, using brooms or a blower that is battery operated or electric, which is not that convenient,” Ide said.

Despite Tech’s beauty, Ide sees room for improvement. The Professional Grounds Management Society recently awarded Tech three out of four stars. Tech was the fourth higher education institute to receive this accreditation, but Ide still strives for more.

“One of the areas we have to work on is training — there was no specific training offered at human resources,” Ide said.

Ide’s new program, “Landscape Investment Training,” kicked off on Feb. 8. Their most recent topic was “preventing natural hazards like poison ivy and poison oak and what to do if you get exposed.”

Regarding Tech’s upcoming reaccreditation,  Ide said that he hopes that “this time we get four out of four stars.”

Ide said his favorite tree on campus is the largest willow oak closest to the Student Center.

“When I came it had mushrooms on the base and I said, ‘This tree is going to die. What are we going to do?’ And we have done everything to keep it alive. Every time I get frustrated I can look at that and know that I have saved something,” Ide said.

Ide hopes to continue to educating students about the value of trees on campus and elsewhere. He said that he is “blessed to be here and blessed to have the opportunity to do what I do.”