The warm weather on Purdue’s campus is often recognizable by students studying under the shade of a tree or colorful hammocks strung up across campus. With more than 11,000 trees across campus, and over 400 different varieties, taking care of these trees is a lot of work.

Lindsey Purcell, a professor in the Forestry and Natural Resources Department, has been working in urban forestry for the past 35 years. He works diligently each day to care for the trees on campus.

“The Purdue campus is an urban forest of its own but provides so many benefits to students and the community,” Purcell said.

The trees students and staff enjoy on campus have an extensive background and are meticulously planned.

“There is a tree-planning committee and staff which work on the campus trees. All of them are college-prepared and credentialed arborists which curate and cultivate the trees at Purdue,” Purcell said. “This includes tree risk assessment, appraisal, plant health-care, pruning, planting, moving trees and sometimes removal.”

Urban forestry has helped cultivate the trees here on campus to be both aesthetically pleasing and practical for students to study beneath or hammock in between.

“Everyone lives in the urban forest, and arborists and urban foresters play a role in the health and quality of life by planting and caring for trees in the built environment,” Purcell said.

One of the people who executes these plans is Peter Vaughn, Purdue’s campus arborist. Vaughn has worked as the campus arborist since June 2017. His work allows him to get closer to the trees than many students and staff ever can. Vaughn said his favorite trees to work in are the ones directly surrounding the Engineering Fountain.

“They are so much fun to climb and work in,” Vaughn said. “My favorite part about the position is that I get to climb trees for a living.”

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