MCC is first Level I ArbNet accredited Arboretum in Arizona

Commemorative event Arbor Day, April 27

Trees in rose garden Trees in rose garden Rose Ash tree 

MESA, Arizona -- April 10, 2018 –The public is invited to Mesa Community College’s Southern and Dobson campus to celebrate the grand opening of the state’s first accredited arboretum and participate in a ceremonial tree planting on Arbor Day 2018, April 27. The ceremony beginat 10 a.m. at the southeast corner of the EF Building (English and Journalism) on MCC’s Southern and Dobson Campus, 1833 W. Southern Ave., Mesa (item number 2017-939 on the interactive arboretum map). A salvaged mature native tree, provided by Native Resources International, is being planted to commemorate the day. Informational presentations and light refreshments will be provided.  

MCC’s Southern and Dobson Campus is the first Arizona arboretum to earn accreditation from the ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program and The Morton Arboretum, for achieving standards of professional practices deemed important for arboreta and botanic gardens. The ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program is the only global initiative to officially recognize arboreta at various levels of development, capacity and professionalism. MCC is now also recognized as an accredited arboretum in the Morton Register of Arboreta, a database of the world’s arboreta and gardens dedicated to woody plants.

An arboretum is an area devoted to specimen plantings of trees, shrubs and other woody plants. Distinct from a forest, nursery or park, it is where many varieties of trees are grown for research, educational and ornamental purposes; and where trees and shrubs are cultivated for exhibition.

Located at MCC’s Southern and Dobson Campus, the 140-acre arboretum is home to thousands of plants from around the world; nearly 100 species of trees and over 80 species of cacti and succulents. The collection largely focuses on native and desert-adapted trees. Visitors are welcome to explore the arboretum free of charge during regular school hours (6 a.m. to 10 p.m.). An interactive online map, at may be viewed on any computer or mobile device while on campus. All trees are inventoried in an IrisBG database and labeled with small ID tags listing the accession number (a bioinformatics identifier), campus location code, family, genus, species and subspecies/variety/cultivar (where appropriate).

By being the first college in our state to receive Level I ArbNet Accreditation, we hope to raise awareness of the importance of arboreta,” said Peter Conden, chair of MCC Arboretum’s governing board and director of the MCC Sustainable Agriculture Program. “For several years, students and faculty from Life Sciences and Landscape Horticulture collaborated to ready our campus for submission. While the designation is meaningful, even more so is that we may now openly share our studentswork and research with our community and across the globe.”

Student's feet showing through rose bushes"Students were part of this arboretum effort from day one, working with faculty and staff to map and catalog plant data. They’ve literally been up to their ankles in the project," said Sean Whitcomb, MCC Life Science faculty and co-lead of the project. “Landscape Horticulture and Life Sciences as well as Cultural Science students regularly use the arboretum as a living laboratory to study plant identification and ecological concepts. Students are involved in a long-term project to measure all the trees on campus and calculate the ecological and economic benefits provided by the trees as they store carbon, filter air pollution and provide shade to reduce cooling costs.”

MCC’s arboretum includes the college’s renowned rose garden, the largest in the desert Southwest, and a four-acre Xeriscape Demonstration Garden created in collaboration with the City of Mesa and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

In 2016 Tom Bulinski, an MCC Landscape Horticulture alumnus who is presently an MCC LandLab Technician, received a Garden Club of America Scholarship to rejuvenate the Xeriscape Demonstration Garden on the Southern and Dobson Campus. Originally established in 1989, the garden displays plants that can be grown with very little supplemental water and includes interpretive signs to educate the public about xeriscaping.

Maintenance in the arboretum is performed by college grounds staff and subcontractors.

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

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 Arboretumin Lisle, Illinois in cooperation with American Public Gardens Associationand 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 service-learning, career and technical programs, civic engagement and innovative approaches to higher education. The college serves as a resource for career readiness, transfer education, workforce development and lifelong learning. Host to more than 30,000 students annually, MCC offers more than 150 degree and certificate programs at its two campuses and additional locations. MCC is an emerging Hispanic Serving Institution with a diverse student body that enriches the learning experience. Renowned faculty are dedicated to student success, providing the education and training that empowers MCC students to compete locally and nationally. MCC, located in the East Valley of Phoenix, Arizona, is one of 10 colleges comprising the Maricopa County Community College District. For additional information visit

Mesa Community College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association (NCA)

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, 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 college.

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Publication Date: 
Tuesday, April 10, 2018