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University celebrates an environmentally friendly campus on Earth Day 2021

As new construction continues at Western Carolina University, there remains a natural harmony and aesthetic across campus. That balance is by design and careful maintenance.

“I’m proud of the fact that Western sees the value of replacing trees and shrubs, whenever possible,” said Roger Turk, grounds superintendent for Facilities Management. “In fact, there’s an effort to increase planting on campus. That idea not only improves the beauty of campus for the students, faculty, staff and visitors, but more importantly in the bigger picture, it contributes to the regional environment that our campus is a part of.”

That fact will be especially notable on Earth Day, celebrated Thursday, April 22.

Since the turn of the century, more than 1,700 trees and 8,170 shrubs, mainly native species, have been added to the campus grounds. WCU has been named a “Green College” by The Princeton Review for the past 10 years and designated a Tree Friendly Campus by the Arbor Day Foundation for three consecutive years.

The effort goes beyond plants and trees. Emission reduction and a smaller carbon footprint are larger goals that are being met. Parking Services now uses an electric vehicle and the WCU Police Department has both a fully equipped bicycle patrol unit and a hybrid patrol car.

In addition to award-winning recycling efforts, the material from building demolition or renovations are also recycled and repurposed, as a means of preventing it from ending up in landfills.

“Earth Day is one day out of the year where we celebrate all the activities and involvement that WCU has throughout the year toward a cleaner, eco-responsible university,” said Lauren Bishop, director of the university’s Office of Sustainability and Energy Management. “We have weeklong participatory events planned and will highlight the accomplishments and contributions of the Catamount Nation.”

Earth Day began in 1970 as a national call for environmental awareness. The day is known for calls to end pollution, organizing trash pickups, planting vegetation and conducting ecological outreach.

WCU activities centered around Earth Day include: 

  • Monday, April 19, “Celebrate Zero Waste” with Sustainable Energy Initiative and SGA 

A.K. Hinds University Center Lawn 2-5 p.m. for recycling games and free stuff

  • Tuesday, April 20, “Sustainability and Campus Dining”

UC Lawn, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. with games and free stuff

  • Wednesday, April 21, “Day of Service” WCU Trail workday

Led by Base Camp Cullowhee, meet at the Health and Human Sciences Trailhead at 10 a.m. Contact Andrew Bryant to sign-up at

  • Thursday, April 22, Earth Day
  • Volunteer to landscaping WCU’s Edible Garden, behind Bardo Arts Center, 2-5 p.m. Contact Bishop to register at
  • Invasive species removal at Gribble Gap Campus Field Lab, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. or 2:30-5 p.m. Walk to site from Cat-Tran drop-off at HHS parking lot. Sign up on WCU sharepoint
  • Friday, April 23, 5th annual EcoCATS Trashion Show all made out of recycled products

5:30-7 p.m. on the UC Lawn. To enter the competition, contact Carrie Lee at

For more information about WCU’s sustainability efforts or Earth Day activities, contact Bishop at 828-227-3562 or

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