Mesa Community College Arboretum earns national distinction, hosts Arbor Day event

MESA, Arizona – April 19, 2022 – Mesa Community Colleges receives the 2021 Tree Campus Higher Education recognition by the Arbor Day Foundation for its commitment to effective urban forest management. In celebration MCC is hosting an Arbor Day celebration 9 - 10 a.m., April 29 outside the Enrollment Center at its Southern and Dobson Campus, 1833 W. Southern Ave., Mesa. The event, free and open to the public, includes the planting of native Arizona riparian trees.

The Arbor Day Foundation is the world’s largest membership nonprofit organization dedicated to planting trees. Its Tree Campus Higher Education program began in 2008 to encourage colleges and universities to plant trees on their campuses.

The MCC Southern and Dobson Campus is the first Arizona arboretum to earn accreditation from the ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program and The Morton Arboretum in 2018. The MCC Arboretum hosts monthly volunteer events open to the community, provides opportunities for student research and is used in teaching a variety of courses at the college.

The MCC 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.

Trees on campus and in urban spaces can lower energy costs by providing shade cover, cleaner air and water, and green spaces for students and faculty. In addition, trees improve students' mental and cognitive health, provide an appealing aesthetic for campuses and create shaded areas for studying and gathering.

Findings of a 2021 research project, Tree Effects on Campus Energy Use: An Ecosystem Services Analysis, conducted by MCC student Jacob Stillwell, indicate shade from campus trees saves the college an estimated $4,820 annually. Stillwell presented his findings at the national Botany 2021 conference.

"Trees not only play a vital role in the environment but also in our daily lives,” said Dan Lambe, chief executive of the Arbor Day Foundation. “Having trees on college and university campuses is a great way to show a commitment to students’ and faculty’s overall well being.”

The Tree Campus Higher Education program honors colleges and universities for effective campus forest management and for engaging staff and students in conservation goals. MCC achieved the distinction by meeting Tree Campus Higher Education’s five standards including maintaining a tree advisory committee, a campus tree-care plan, dedicated annual expenditures for its campus tree program, an Arbor Day observance and student service-learning projects. Currently, there are only 393 campuses across the United States with this recognition.

“The MCC Arboretum is a living laboratory providing a number of educational and ecological benefits to our community. Campus trees help reduce global warming, provide much-needed shade and give students opportunities to learn about plant life from around the world,” said Sean Whitcomb, MCC Life Science faculty. “We encourage students and community members to volunteer to help us maintain the Arboretum and plan for the future of this unique natural resource.”

The Mesa Community College Arboretum, home to more than 100 species of trees and thousands of plants from around the world, includes the largest rose garden in the Desert Southwest. Visit to learn about the species of plants found on the campus and to access an interactive map of the trees on campus, which allows visitors to search for specific trees by their common name, scientific name or botanical family. The map is continuously updated as plants are added or removed.

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Media contacts:
Dawn Zimmer, Mesa Community College, 480-461-7892,
Jeff Salem, Arbor Day Foundation, 402-473-2024,

Founded in 1972, the Arbor Day Foundation has grown to become the largest nonprofit membership organization dedicated to planting trees, with more than one million members, supporters and valued partners. Since 1972, almost 500 million Arbor Day Foundation trees have been planted in neighborhoods, communities, cities and forests throughout the world. Our vision is to lead toward a world where trees are used to solve issues critical to survival. As one of the world's largest operating conservation foundations, the Arbor Day Foundation, through its members, partners and programs, educates and engages stakeholders and communities across the globe to involve themselves in its mission of planting, nurturing and celebrating trees. More information is available at

More information about the Tree Campus Higher Educationprogram 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. 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. Host to more than 25,400 students annually, MCC offers degree and certificate programs at its two campuses and additional locations through a combination of modalities. MCC is transforming how it champions student success through Guided Pathways with Integrated Support Services and a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. MCC is a Hispanic Serving Institution with nearly 50% of its students being the first in their families to attend college. MCC has the largest indigenous student population of all the Maricopa Community Colleges; its American Indian Institute serves students from the 22 federally recognized Arizona tribes as well as out-of-state tribes. The 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.

Mesa Community College is individually 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: 
Tuesday, April 19, 2022