Shepherd University will soon be home to the Carl F. Bell Arboretum, thanks to a donation through the Shepherd University Foundation from the late professor and his family. Beta Beta Beta, the biology honor society, is leading an effort to plant the first 21 arboretum trees on West Campus.
Dr. Carl F. Bell, who retired in 2015 and died in 2017, spent 54 years teaching plant biology to undergraduates at Shepherd.
“This brings one of Dr. Bell’s dreams to life—to have the campus serve, as so many historic college campuses do, as an arboretum, where all species of native trees can be represented, where they would provide beauty, shade, education, and conservation,” said Dr. Carol Plautz, professor of biology and chair of the Campus Tree Committee. “He knew the arboretum distinction could serve to draw tourists and visitors to campus who are eager to take in a botanical attraction.”
Plautz said instructors can use the arboretum to teach students how to identify trees of area forests and to investigate the ecosystems those trees support. She said the native trees that will be planted will provide habitat for native invertebrates, another passion of Bell’s.
“The goal is to inventory and tag our beautiful campus trees, as well as add to the native species represented on campus through new plantings,” Plautz said. “Dr. Bell had an encyclopedic knowledge of and great appreciation for trees. He initiated the Campus Arboretum Fund with the Shepherd University Foundation and started the Campus Tree Committee to undertake planting and maintenance projects.”
Students from the Rho Omega chapter of the national biological society Beta Beta Beta are helping to plant the trees and are spearheading an effort to include all campus trees in an extensive and complete catalog. Students from the Shepherd Environmental Organization will also participate in the planting, and the Cacapon Institute will provide expertise, material, and support through its Community Environmental Management Program to coordinate the university’s efforts with regional efforts to maintain the Chesapeake Bay watershed region.