MCC Arboretum earns Level II from Arbnet Accreditation Program

MESA, Ariz. – May 24, 2023 – The 140-acre Mesa Community College Arboretum has been upgraded to Level II Accreditation by the ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program and The Morton Arboretum, for achieving particular standards of professional practices deemed important for arboreta and botanic gardens.

“We’ve had a remarkable year of achievements,” said MCC Life Science faculty Sean Whitcomb. “The Level II Accreditation is a testament to the arboretum's dedication to maintaining a diverse and sustainable community of trees.”

There are four levels of accreditation with Level IV being the highest level. Thirty-nine countries have accredited arboreta and there are 611 accredited arboreta worldwide. Initially accredited in 2018, the MCC Arboretum, located at the Southern and Dobson Campus (1833 W. Southern Ave.), was the first in Arizona to be awarded the designation.

The arboretum is home to the Southwest Desert Plant and Sonoran Desert Plant sections, the Xeriscape Garden, Outback Arbor, Arizona Riparian Tree area and the world renowned Rose Garden at Mesa Community College, the largest in the desert Southwest. Maintenance in the arboretum is performed by college grounds staff, volunteers and subcontractors.

In addition to more than 100 species of trees such as willow, citrus, ash, cottonwood, mulberry, palo verde, jacaranda, among many others, the arboretum has more than 80 species of cacti and succulents.

Some of the arboretum’s other achievements over the past year include:

  • Recognition from the Arbor Day Foundation for the second consecutive year as a Tree Campus, awarded at the Arizona Arbor Day celebration at the State Capitol
  • A $40,000 irrigation improvement grant from the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management to install new irrigation systems and upgrade existing ones
  • Recruitment of more than 100 volunteers during six arboretum-sponsored events, essential for achieving the arboretum's goals like planting trees, maintaining the grounds and improving the irrigation system
  • 27 new trees planted by volunteers
  • Creation of a second monarch butterfly waystation providing habitat and food for this endangered species in partnership with the Arboretum Committee and the Center for Civic and Community Engagement; and the dedication of two new waystation signs designed and built entirely by students.

“Our arboretum committee continues to support the college in maintaining and improving the beauty of our amazing campus, and have been receiving generous donations of trees from local nurseries,” said Peter Conden, MCC Landscape Horticulture and Sustainable Agriculture Programs faculty and co-director of the MCC Arboretum. “This is all due to the hard work of Sean Whitcomb, Steve Priebe, Carrie Lipka, the entire arboretum committee, and student and employee volunteers.”

The arboretum remains free and open to the public. Visitors are welcome to explore it free of charge during regular school hours (6 a.m.-10 p.m.). An interactive online map, at, may be viewed on any computer or mobile device.

Learn more about events and plants in the MCC Arboretum at

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Media contact: Dawn Zimmer,, 480-461-7892

About ArbNet
ArbNet is an interactive, collaborative, international community of arboreta. ArbNet facilitates the sharing of knowledge, experience, and other resources to help arboreta meet their institutional goals and works to raise professional standards through the ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program. The accreditation program, sponsored and coordinated by The Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois in cooperation with American Public Gardens Association and Botanic Gardens Conservation International, is the only global initiative to officially recognize arboreta based on a set of professional standards. The program offers four levels of accreditation, recognizing arboreta of various degrees of development, capacity and professionalism. Standards include planning, governance, public access, programming and tree science, planting and conservation. More information is available at

Mesa Community College is nationally recognized for university transfer, career and technical programs, civic engagement, service-learning and innovative approaches to education. Host to more than 24,400 students annually, MCC offers degree and certificate programs at its two campuses and additional locations. On average MCC students provide 23,000 hours of community service annually. For more than 50 years, the college has served as a resource for education, workforce development and lifelong learning. MCC is transforming student success through Guided Pathways with Integrated Support Services and a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. MCC is a Hispanic Serving Institution. Nearly 50% of MCC students are the first in their families to attend college. MCC has the largest indigenous student population of all the Maricopa Community Colleges. The American Indian Institute serves students from 22 federally recognized Arizona tribes and out-of-state tribes. Our diverse student body includes hundreds of international students from around the world. Award-winning faculty are dedicated to student success, providing the education and training that empowers MCC students to attain their goals. Located in the East Valley of Phoenix, Arizona, on the traditional territories of the O'odham, Piipaash and Yavapai Peoples, MCC is one of 10 colleges in the Maricopa County Community College District. Visit to learn more.

MCC is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC),

The Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) is an EEO/AA institution and an equal opportunity employer of protected veterans and individuals with disabilities. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, or national origin. A lack of English language skills will not be a barrier to admission and participation in the career and technical education programs of the District. MCCCD does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability or age in its programs or activities. For Title IX/504 concerns, call the following number to reach the appointed coordinator: (480) 731-8499. For additional information, as well as a listing of all coordinators within the Maricopa College system, visit

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Publication Date: 
Wednesday, May 24, 2023