North Dakota State Forester Larry Kotchman, right, presented the “Tree Campus USA” award to UTTC President Russ McDonald.


BISMARCK (UTN) – United Tribes Technical College became one of the first tribal colleges in the country to be a “Tree Campus USA” site.

The designation came May 6 from three of the nation’s major tree planting organizations that sponsor the program: the Arbor Day

Foundation of Nebraska, the USDA Forest Service, and the National Association of State Foresters. State Forester Larry Kotchman of the

North Dakota Forest Service presented the award.


“United Tribes really stands out,” said Kotchman to an audience of about 100 who attended a public program at the college. “The community

forest you’ve established on the campus…is a perfect backdrop to highlight educational opportunities here, and they really contribute to a

better quality of life for all who live and learn and visit here.”


The award confirmed that UTTC met the standards in 2015-16 for two and four-year accredited colleges and universities to develop healthy

trees on its campus and promote student involvement.


UTTC and Blackfeet Community College of Browning, MT, are the first two tribal colleges to earn the distinction.

“Today is the first time that a tribal college is celebrating ‘Tree Campus USA’ designation, first time in the country,” said John T. Shannon of

Missoula, MT, USDA Forest Service Deputy Director for State and Private Forestry. “You ever see the big foam finger, ‘Who’s Number One?’

United Tribes Technical College is number one. Way to go!”


Arbor Day Program

The UTTC event took place on North Dakota Arbor Day (the first Friday in May) and included tribal honor songs from a drum group. A ceremonial

tree planting continued a longstanding tradition of recognizing graduates of the college’s Nutrition and Food Service program.

UTTC Nutrition and Food Service students planted a fruit tree during the program, from left: Peter Stone,

Toni Shot and Delorise White, with Instructor/Dept. Chair Annette Broyles.


Featured speaker was Standing Rock wisdom-keeper Mary Louise Defender Wilson, who shared traditional Dakota knowledge about trees,

including the story: “The Star in the Cottonwood.”

Mary Louise Defender Wilson (Standing Rock/Dakota)

Youngsters from Theodore Jamerson Elementary School on the UTTC campus attended, along with tribal leaders on the college’s governing

board and the Mayor of Bismarck. A reception followed and tree seedlings were distributed.

UTTC’s Community Forest

UTTC’s campus trees program is coordinated by Linda Hugelen, an Agroecology Extension Educator with the college’s Land Grant Programs.

During the summer of 2015, Community Forestry Specialist Joel Nichols of the North Dakota Forest Service compiled an inventory and assessment

of the campus tree resources using GPS technology. The college’s 106 acre main campus contains more than 1,278 trees. Many were planted prior to the

college’s founding in 1969, when the site was a former military post known as Fort Lincoln.


The appraised value of UTTC’s community forest is $4.5-million. Included are trees planted for landscape, ceremonial, commemorative and beautification

purposes. In 2011 the college established a fruit orchard in its Dragonfly Garden. The tree planting location for the Arbor Day program was a fruit tree

grove that serves in the college’s Nutrition and Food Service educational program.

Community Forestry Specialist Joel Nichols, UTTC Campus Services VP Bill Gourneau, UTTC Agroecology Extension Educator Linda Hugelen, UTTC President McDonald and ND Forester Larry Kotchman with plaque, John T. Shannon of the USFS, UTTC Land Grant Programs Director Pat Aune, UTTC Agroecology Technician Robert Fox, and UTTC Nutrition/Food Service Instructor Wanda Agnew. Not pictured: UTTC Facilities Manager Bud Anderson, UTTC Public Information Director Dennis Neumann.


UTTC has received funding and technical support from a number of government agencies and private sector organizations, including the North Dakota

Forest Service, U.S. Forest Service, USDA NRCS Plant Materials Center, Lincoln-Oakes Nursery, the North Dakota Association of Soil Conservation Districts,

NDSU Extension Service, N.D. Dept. of Agriculture, Fruit Tree Planting Foundation, Dreyer’s/Edy’s Fruit Bars, Communities Take Root, Fourth Grade Foresters of

North Dakota and now the Arbor Day Foundation.


Tree Campus USA Standards

The Tree Campus USA program requires institutions to have: 1) a campus tree advisory committee, 2) a published tree care plan,

3) dedicated annual tree care expenditures, 4) an annual Arbor Day program, and 5) service learning projects. The program is sponsored in partnership

with Toyota.

For more information about UTTC’s community forestry program contact Linda Hugelen, Agroecology Extension Educator, UTTC Land Grant Programs,

United Tribes Technical College, 3315 University Drive, Bismarck, ND 58504-7565, 701-221-1426, 701-595-6998,


Makoche Studios, captured the event on video: 



United Tribes News photos DENNIS J. NEUMANN