University Day focuses on adding pollinator plants to campus

Bedding plants

Spring is in full force on campus, bringing longer days, blooming flowers, warmer temperatures and one of the oldest UO traditions: University Day.

On May 17, students will work together with employees from the Division of Student Life and Campus Planning and Facilities Management to spruce up campus in preparation for commencement.

Since 1905, Ducks have spent a day in May volunteering their time to plant trees, pull weeds and clean up trash, as well as work on a special project chosen each year by the planning committee. The results of past years’ special projects are still visible across campus, from installing fern frond decorative bike racks and light poles to laying new walkways.

This year, volunteers will add pollinator plants to dedicated animal habitats across campus to support bees, butterflies, other insects and birds.

After several trees fell in a 2016 storm, Campus Planning and Facilities Management took the opportunity to use the remnants of the trees to create natural habitats for animals and insects. The grounds crew left the large logs and pieces of the removed trees and added native plants to make them more inviting for wildlife.

Jane Brubaker, landscape designer for Campus Planning and Facilities Management, said pollinator plants will be key to enhancing the dedicated animal habitats on campus.

Brubaker, who has been helping plan and facilitate University Day for the past 20 years, believes landscaping can help students connect to campus and feel more at home. Even the type of plants used can make a big difference. Brubaker said international students especially get excited to see plants they recognize.

“I’ve had students come up to me and say ‘that plant grows in my country!’” she said. “It’s a neat way of connecting, and it helps them feel more at home.”

UO students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members can sign up to volunteer for University Day in person on Collier Lawn from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 17. Volunteers who work at least one hour will receive a free University Day t-shirt.

“University Day is a really nice way to give back and to be a part of your campus in a very tangible, physical way,” Brubaker said, “and it’s a nice excuse for staff to get away from their desks and get outside.”

By Morgan Robinson, UO Strategic Communications and Marketing