CWU News

Central Washington University Celebrates a Belated Arbor Day 2020

During a campus ceremony (Friday, June 12), CWU observed Arbor Day and the university’s recognition as a Tree Campus USA. The university's planned Arbor Day event in April had to be canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Blair McNeillie, CWU Grounds Supervisor; Sunny Bloxham, director, Custodial and Grounds and Kathleen Klaniecki, university Sustainability Coordinator, at Arbor Day event“We were hopeful that we could come back to celebrate, even if belatedly,” said CWU Sustainability Coordinator Kathleen Klaniecki. “Trees reflect the history of our institution. Many of our trees have been here for decades and in that time, they’ve seen countless classes of Wildcats studying beneath their shade and walking to class.”

Each year since 1882, Arbor Day has been held nationally to celebrate the ecological and community benefits of trees and promotes tree planting and tree care.

The Arbor Day Foundation conferred Tree Campus USA designation on CWU earlier this year for meeting its five required standards: maintaining a tree advisory committee, instituting a campus tree-care plan, dedicating annual expenditures for a campus tree program, hosting an Arbor Day observance, and establishing student service-learning projects.

“We interact with trees every day, but we often don’t stop to truly appreciate their economic, environmental, and social benefits,” Klaniecki added. “Trees contribute to improved air quality, they filter groundwater, they are valued on our campus for their breaking the Ellensburg wind. Simply having trees in your neighborhood increase property values and reduce heating and cooling costs, and they can reduce stress and anxiety in the workplace.”

CWU Grounds Supervisor Blair McNeillie planting a new red Maple south of Brooks Library.In honor of the Tree Campus USA designation, CWU planted a new red Maple south of Brooks Library. It became the newest of the roughly 3,200 trees on the Ellensburg campus.

CWU Grounds Supervisor Blair McNeillie, who directed the planting, said, “This is just one of the 16 trees we’ve already planted this year to dedicate to our Tree Campus USA status. They are part of the 50 new trees I anticipate will be in the ground by the end of 2020. I want to express my gratitude to the grounds staff for their efforts and the hard work they have put in over the last few years to improve our campus. They’re the people that made receiving this award possible.”

Media contact: Robert Lowery, CWU Department of Public Affairs, 509-899-0235,

Editor’s note: The City of Ellensburg was designated as a Tree City USA in 1983 and was the first community in the State of Washington to earn this recognition.

Top: (L. to r.) CWU Grounds Supervisor Blair McNeillie, Sunny Bloxham, director, Custodial and Grounds; and Sustainability Coordinator Kathleen Klaniecki holding the university’s new Tree Campus USA banner.

Bottom: CWU Grounds Supervisor Blair McNeillie planting the new red Maple.