Lauren Trotter, a senior Environmental & Sustainability Sciences student at TCU, has raised money to plant more trees on TCU campus and organized a donation drive during move out to donate items. Trotter has worked as representative of sustainability related initiatives for the College of Science & Engineering in the Student Government Associated (SGA) since the fall of 2021. The last two years of her undergrad, Trotter advocated for improvement of sustainability at TCU.
In her efforts to create a more sustainable TCU, Trotter met with many faculty and staff. The most influential member she partnered with was Erik Trevino. “Erik was enthusiastic about collaborating with students to promote sustainability on campus. Through my connections with SGA, I wrote a bill to fund a small-scale tree planting in the spring of 2022,” Trotter says.
Her first event was Campus Tree Day. More than 30 students, faculty, and staff volunteered to plant three small cedar elm trees at the corner of Lot 15 on east campus. The success of this event led Trotter to pursue more projects. This year Trotter plans to plant 15 trees to celebrate TCU's 150th anniversary on National Arbor Day. Another bill was written asking for $12,000 to purchase the trees, which was eventually passed by the House of Student Representatives and awarded Erik Trevino and his team the funds.
Using her connections on campus Trotter spread the word about the tree planting to gain volunteers while Erik Trevino and his team provided the soil, shovels, and additional labor. The team was given garden gloves and instruction on behalf of SGA. Trotter says, “I am honored to have worked with Erik this semester to plan large-scale tree plantings that will have a lasting impact on TCU's campus before I graduate this May.”
For the seventh straight year, TCU was named a Tree Campus Higher Education Institution by the Arbor Day Foundation for its commitment to caring for campus trees. “This recognition requires an annual commitment from TCU regarding tree care, education, student events and expenditures related to our campus trees,” said Erik Trevino, director of landscaping and grounds. “This annual recognition is a source of pride for our TCU grounds team, as well as the entire TCU community.”
In addition to campus pride, according to the Arbor Day Foundation, a commitment to trees and green space have added benefits to the campus community, such as reducing energy use, absorbing carbon dioxide, encouraging physical activity and promoting environmental wellness.
Not only had Lauren Trotter help facilitate Campus Tree Day, but she also organized a donation drive for move-out day. Each year TCU schedules around 55 U-Hauls of 30-yard open-top waste containers during move out. This is equal to 1,650 cubic yards of waste in landfill. Many of these items could be donated instead of thrown out.
Wendy Macias, associate professor and associate dean of undergraduate studies strategic communication at the Bob Schieffer College of Communication, spearheaded the project with the TCU sustainability project. As the project grew, that committee formed subcommittees called the “Refrog.” Trotters says, “As a subcommittee member, I have had the opportunity to represent the students' voices. As a student, I remember what on-campus move-out looked like, and I was able to provide constructive criticism regarding our initial solutions…I am optimistic about the donation drive's potential for success because many students are excited to donate their lightly used items on campus rather than contribute to landfill waste!”
Even if it is not a priority for some students on campus, Trotter says her efforts are important to the TCU mission statement of "educating individuals to think and act as ethical leaders and responsible citizens in the global community.”
She says, “Just as I am thankful for the Class of 1912 who gifted the original oak tree and established the traditions that turned the prairie into the urban forest we know and love today, I know that future generations of TCU students will be thankful to me and my peers for planting 15 trees on campus in 2023.” As her time comes to an end at TCU, Trotter gives thanks to her professors for sparking her interest in urban trees and sustainable development. She also gives thanks and credit to TCU for planting trees many years ago that provided students with a beautiful campus.