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Ecology Class Takes on the Arb

Ecology students walk to the Arb to learn more about the trees around them.
Courtesy of Courtney Kiley
Ecology students stop and listen to one of the guides.

With newly equipped tree identification skills at the ready, Courtney Kiley’s Ecology class made their way to the Nichols Arboretum (Arb). After 20 minutes of walking past construction projects and over cross-walks, the class finally reached the densely wooded Arb, scattered with winding and hilly paths.

The class met up with two tree experts from University of Michigan who led a 45 minute tour of the Arb. The guides informed the students of invasive species, unique tree characteristics, plant life and sustainable forest practices.

Senior Sadie Barber felt the trip was exhilarating. She liked how the walk was first thing in the morning and enjoyed hanging out with friends.

“It was a little bit cold, but walking warmed me up, and it was fun to go with the class,” Barber said. “I’ve always been interested in nature, and it was fun to learn more in depth about the Arb.”

Some students took the opportunity at the Arb to complete their “Fall Leaf Collection” assignment that requires students to identify 15 trees on a slideshow or in a booklet by taking photos of or physically collecting leaves.

“I knew that I wanted to do real leaves so I could keep a booklet,” Barber said. “It was a unique experience being able to get an assignment done while just going for a walk.”

Barber was able to collect all kinds of leaves and needles, from the small heart-shaped leaves of the little-leaf linden to the yellow star-shaped leaves of the sweetgum. While collecting the leaves, Barber and others practiced identifying trees using characteristics of bark, leaf shape and color.

Ecology students will soon be taken on a “walking tree identification test” to assess their tree identification skills. With their new formed knowledge from the Arb, students hope to become master tree identifiers.

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Bridgette Kelly
Bridgette Kelly, Feature Editor
Bridgette Kelly is a senior continuing her second year on staff. She enjoys playing tennis, eating good food and taking walks.

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