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From the Ground Up: FSU, Community Plant the Future of Frostburg as Tree City, USA

FROSTBURG, Md. – On the cool autumn morning of Oct. 21, students from Frostburg State University dropped their papers, pencils and books in exchange for shovels and garden gloves. As part of a Forest Ecology and Conservation Biology class’ service learning project, students and community members joined together for a collaborative effort to turn the local area into “Tree City USA,” by planting tree saplings along Frost Avenue in downtown Frostburg, Md.

Frost Ave Trees
Students Katharine Pratt, left, and Ericka Randolph prepare a tree for planting, while Brian Vought from the City of Frostburg watches.
Frost Ave Group
The tree-planting crew paused for a photo. In the front row, from left, are David Fletcher, Ericka Randolph, Katharine Pratt, Grant Smith (behind her), Hannah Goodmuth, Becca Hiller, Alex Cathcart, Cathy Hughes and Anthony Kirby Jr. In the back row, from left, are Ben Brow, Joseph Linsalata, Jerod Williams, Kamren Jefferson, Mike Ringler, Bryan Whitmore, Ron Troutman, Donavan Daniels, Michael McCampbell and Laura Smith.

“After FSU became a ‘Tree Campus USA’, we’ve been working to make Frostburg ‘Tree City, USA’” said Dr. Sunshine Brosi, an assistant professor in the FSU Department of Biology and chair of the Campus Tree Advisory committee. “It’s our way of highlighting sustainability in the community as well as on campus.”

The roots of the project, funded through the Chesapeake Bay Trust, were planted as early as July 1, when an outreach grant was awarded to FSU to promote volunteerism, expand the area’s tree canopy and increase awareness about the environmental benefits of trees to the local urban environment and the larger watershed area.

“We’re really excited to communicate the importance of trees, especially in the urban environment,” said senior Laura Smith, an ethnobotany major interning with the City of Cumberland Urban Forestry Program and the author of the grant. “They are often overlooked for the work that they do to improve air and water quality.” To ensure that the message is conveyed by the Frostburg campus and community, 50 trees were planted along Frost Avenue, much to the satisfaction of Smith, who added, “Frost Avenue will be saturated [with trees].”

Volunteer FSU ethnobotany students will monitor the newly planted trees approximately one month from the planting date and every two to three months thereafter. Signs at multiple planting sites will be used as an educational component of the ongoing project to inform the public about the benefits of the newly planted trees in their neighborhood. These signs will also promote Western Maryland region’s place in the Chesapeake Watershed. Data will be collected and analyzed by FSU students using “ITrees” software, which will highlight the importance of allowing trees to reach mature size. Other opportunities for more in-depth, future study of tree-planting behavior will include community surveys and further observations.

The project will benefit students and the local area, as well as Allegany County and the region as a whole. As students sowed the seeds of sustainability at Frostburg, Paula Munson, a community member who has lived on Frost Avenue since 1976 and has seen a number of mature trees removed in recent years for safety reasons, said, “I think it’s wonderful making this street back to being beautiful again. Planting trees gives everybody a sense of ownership. I’d like to see more on every street in Frostburg.”

The success of the project and previous tree plantings in the Frostburg area bring FSU closer to its long-term goal of seeing an increased awareness of urban trees’ integral role in protecting and enhancing local ecology. The seedlings planted by students and community members along Frost Avenue will blossom into fully grown crabapples, eastern redbuds, pin oaks, flowering dogwoods and other trees native to this region. Now, FSU’s distinction of being the only campus in Maryland that has adopted a standard of planting native trees and shrubs will grow along them.

For more information, contact Brosi at 301-687-4213 or

Situated in the mountains of Allegany County, Frostburg State University is one of the 12 institutions of the University System of Maryland. FSU is a comprehensive, residential regional university and serves as an educational and cultural center for Western Maryland. For more information, visit or Follow FSU on Twitter @frostburgstate.


For further information on this release, contact:

Office of News and Media Services
Frostburg State University
101 Braddock Road
Frostburg, MD  21532-2303

Telephone: 301-687-3171
Fax: 301-687-7589