Journeys of Dr. G at Tyler Arboretum

The sabbatical project continues, exploring all that Tyler Arboretum has to offer


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A Case Study with Toilet Paper Roll Volunteers, Part 2

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Left: One of the many festive outdoor decorations at Tyler Arboretum this season.  This snowflake was made of recycled plant labels/tags!

Earlier in the week, I posted Part 1 of this topic, where my campus conducted a paper roll collection drive for a recycled art project at Tyler Arboretum’s Winter Wonderland event on Saturday, December 6 (see blog post).  Today, I was able to see the transformation and clever outcome of all our efforts!  See this slideshow below for the stages of development of the ornament.

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But the Winter Wonderland event was much more than cardboard tubes and glitter!  There were hayrides (yes, even in the rain!).  One visitor shared with me that you haven’t seen Tyler Arboretum until you’ve seen it in the rain (and I agree!).  There were other craft activities, hot chocolate and cookies, and a beautiful sled for people in which people were having their photos taken.  Even Lachford Hall was open for historic tours.

And I could not help but attempt to complete the Reindeer Scavenger Hunt – the photos below document my success in finding all six of the wooden reindeer!  I look forward to more winter fun at Tyler Arboretum real soon.

 


If you missed Winter Wonderland event, not to worry – you can mark these other Tyler winter events on your calendar!

  • Family Night Hike, Saturday, January 10, 6:30PM – 8PM
  • Maple Surgaring Exploration, Saturday, January 31, 10AM – 11AM, or Sunday, February 1, 1PM – 2PM
  • Winter Nature Hike, Monday, February 16, 10AM – 11:30AM
  • Pancake Breakfast and Maple Sugaring Celebration, Saturday, February 28, 8AM – 1PM (Snow Date: March 7)

To view full details on these and other Tyler events, visit http://www.TylerArboretum.org/calendar.


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A Case Study with Toilet Paper Roll Volunteers, Part 1

flowerTyler’s Volunteer Coordinator Julia Lo Ehrhardt sent out via email her Volunteer Newsletter in Late November with a simple request:

We need your toilet paper or paper towel rolls. Our programmers are dreaming up ways to engage children and they came up with this beautiful work of recycled art. Save us your rolls and bring them to the Visitor Center by December 1.

Included in the newsletter was a wonderful photo (displayed to the right) for volunteers to see an example of the clever art that kids will be making at Tyler’s programs, such as the upcoming Woodland Winter Wonderland event on December 6.  I knew that I had some toilet paper rolls that I hadn’t yet recycled, and I knew we would be emptying paper towel rolls with our baking for the Thanksgiving holiday.  I was ready to start my collection to donate to the cause!

But then I started thinking… certainly, I’m not the only person with empty cardboard rolls in the house.  Why not engage my fellow faculty and staff members where I work (Penn State Brandywine) to donate their “empties” from the holidays?  The students were already gone for Thanksgiving break, so it was difficult to get the word out to them.  But I quickly connected with Dr. Lynn Hartle, the coordinator of our campus Laboratory for Civic Engagement, and we decided to do a joint collection drive on campus between the Laboratory and the Environmental Inquiry Minor (an academic program I advise for).  Within minutes, I drafted a flyer (this is a PDF of the flyer), emailed the flyer to the entire campus, and kept my fingers crossed that by December 1st, we would have some rolls to donate.

The “buzz” that this collection drive generated was immediate.  I saw that others printed off the flyer and posted it on bulletin boards and office doors.  An announcement went up on the campus Facebook page and on Twitter:

One of the bags of rolls that came in - and there were many more!

One of the bags of rolls that came in – and there were many more!

And wow, did the rolls come rolling in!  We had a full lawn-and-leaf garbage bag filled with cardboard rolls, and then even more came in today.  I was so pleased to see and hear the enthusiasm from my co-workers for helping Tyler Arboretum.  One interesting side effect was the “visual” of just how many cardboard rolls we generate and go through in such a short time (a possible future environmental project for a student to investigate!).

So here is my take-home message to all volunteers and friends of Tyler – reach out to your family, your friends,  your co-workers, your schools, etc., and get them involved in helping Tyler Arboretum!  I don’t know anyone that has the time or the funds to help to the extent that he/she wishes, but by mobilizing our own little circles of family and friends with these types of collection drives, simple acts of kindness can make a big difference for Tyler (in this case, for the art/nature programs for children).

This makes me want to make some recycled art, too!  My next post, Part 2, will be a full description of what Tyler did with all of these toilet paper and paper towel rolls…

 


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A celebration of volunteering at Tyler Arboretum

President Award logoAlthough it has been some time since I have blogged on this site, it is not because things are “quiet” at Tyler Arboretum!  In transitioning back from sabbatical and then immediately heading out to sea for a 3-week field experience, I finally have my “land legs” back and am getting back “out and about” on the pathways and trails at the Arboretum this November.  One of the events I recently attended was an evening to celebrate and recognize the efforts of Tyler’s volunteers.

The volunteers at Tyler Arboretum are some of the most passionate volunteers I have met, always so generous with their time and energy, and always with a smile on their faces!  Each year, Tyler hosts a lovely reception with excellent food, delightful conversations, and recognition of volunteers that have donated enough hours of their time to earn The President’s Volunteer Service Award (this website will provide more information about the award).  See my previous blog posts about the 2012 and 2013 Volunteer Recognition ceremonies.

Julia Lo Ehrhardt, Tyler’s volunteer coordinator, was an excellent “master of ceremonies,” providing a fascinating overview of the history of volunteering at the Arboretum.  Presidential Volunteer Service Awards were earned at the Silver and Bronze level by six youth and seventeen adults for their work with summer camps, public programs, and the horticulture department.  Below are some photos I took at the event in the Sequoia Room of The Barn, but the photos on the Tyler Arboretum Facebook page are much better (nice job, Laura McPhail, Tyler’s Communications Coordinator!).

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Screen Shot 2014-11-14 at 5.36.21 PMThis year, there were no Presidential Lifetime Award winners (volunteers that have contributed 4,000 volunteer hours or more).  But I was thrilled to hear that two volunteers are “banking” their volunteer hours to achieve this recognition!  And I must give a shout-out to the previous Lifetime volunteers and thank them for their time, dedication, and passion for making Tyler Arboretum the gem that it is!  Thank you for all that you have done and continue to do, Joe Cultrara, Nick Greene, Wayne Keller, Michael Lenzi, Jack Nixon, Tom Reeves, Doug Robinson, and Pat Vaul.

Interested in volunteering for Tyler Arboretum? See Tyler’s Volunteer webpage for the range of opportunities available!


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Tyler Arboretum contributes to Smithsonian tree biomass research

DSCN4704Early yesterday morning I headed out to Tyler Arboretum, taking a brief stroll along the Scenic Loop with a chorus of birds and seeing various critters scurry across the pathway (some scurrying not-so-fast, as this friendly slug).  But as I started my journey and walked by the pond, a shiny silver band caught my eye, and I’m hoping this blog post will encourage more of you to take a look at this band and realize its significance.

If you walk towards the pond, and if you stand with the pond on your left, look towards the right and you will see this bench, with this tree right next to it:

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The silver band is a dendrometer, a metal band with a spring that allows us to measure an increase in the tree diameter – in effect, measuring tree growth.  The tree band and the data it will provide from measurements are all part of the Smithsonian Institution’s Global Tree Banding Project.  Scientists from the Smithsonian are starting the first global database to see how trees respond to our planet’s changing climate.  With increasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, are trees growing faster?  Is the rate of growth linear?  Is the growth the same across different regions?  The answer will be in the data, and what the Smithsonian needs now is more data!

This is where Tyler Arboretum and other schools and public gardens come in.  The Smithsonian sent Tyler Arboretum a kit to set up these tree bands on different trees scattered around the Arboretum.  Below is a close-up of the tree by the pond with its band.  The spring on the back side allows the band to expand and the tree continues to grow.

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It is the space within the “notch” under the tree label where Tyler’s horticulture staff will be measuring the increasing gap with digital calipers over time.  It is incredibly exciting to see that Tyler’s trees are not just for our own enjoyment but are also contributing to significant climate research.  To learn more about the Smithsonian research and the tree bands, check out this YouTube video.

Most importantly, please do not touch the band!  The tree needs to expand and grow on its own, and any human fingers/hands that touch the band can throw off the band placement and therefore impact the measurement.

The Smithsonian Tree Banding Project is just one example of the citizen science projects that are taking off at Tyler.  I encourage everyone to go back and check out Director of Public Programs Amy Mawby’s column titled “Engaging in Science at Tyler” on page 4 in the Summer 2014 Tyler Topics Newsletter.  Read about the other scientific data being collected at Tyler, and how YOU as a citizen scientist and help with these projects!

 


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Carl W. Fenninger and his Holly Collection

I am always looking for new sites around Tyler Arboretum that previously have not caught my eye. Not far from the collection of birdhouses and the giant Cape May Birdhouse (one of Tyler’s treehouses), by the sign that describes the lilac collection and diversity at Tyler, I saw this stone under the shade of a nearby tree:

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This certainly left me curious!  I had already learned about Tyler’s holly collection and blogged about the arboretum being an official holly arboretum, but the name Carl Fenninger did not come up in my initial search.  In addition to the information on the plaque, this is what I have learned about Mr. Fenninger:

  • Elected to the Philadelphia Botanical Club in 1947
  • Active member of the American Rock Garden Society (at least from years 1947-1948)
  • Lecture Committee for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society in 1956
  • Member of the American Daffodil Society in 1958 and 1959 and 1968
  • Director of the American Horticultural Society (years I could not locate)
  • Served for ten years as the Secretary/Treasurer of the American Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboretum
  • Recipient of the Distinguished Achievement Award of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (March 10, 1964)
  • Named an Honorary Life Member to the American Public Gardens Association in 1973

Certainly, Mr. Fenninger’s contributions extended well beyond his dedication and work with Tyler Arboretum!  What I have not yet found in my internet searching is his connection specifically to holly.  Time to keep digging (digging virtually, that is…).

 

 

 


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The sabbatical comes to an end… but the journey does not!

My sabbatical at Penn State Brandywine began on July 1, 2013.  One year ago, I made a promise to myself that one of my sabbatical activities was to get to know more about Tyler Arboretum – the activities and events, the people, everything!  I have thoroughly enjoyed my time blogging about my adventures volunteering, participating in programs, and getting to know more about the fascinating history, culture, and science of this public garden.  Alas, my sabbatical time has officially ended, and now – it is back to work!  I’ll be back in the classroom this fall semester, off doing research on an oceanographic cruise, and working with students (the most rewarding part of my job).

Interestingly, before my sabbatical even came to a close, I was surprised to find several people asking me… “so what is going to happen to your blog?”  I was pleased to hear that others were hoping I would continue with stories about Tyler Arboretum.  And I certainly feel that I still have so much more to learn.  So…. the [blogging] journey will continue!  My posts will not be coming out quite as frequently, but I can’t wait to share what I’ve learned about the holly collection, and it is going to be fascinating to report what I experience at Nightfall on July 15 (such an innovative idea for Tyler!).

In the meantime, as I type this post while on a US Airways flight, look at what is mentioned in the June 2014 US Airways Magazine – a shout-out to Tyler Arboretum (in the Pushing Boundaries article on page 185)!  Let the journey continue, even from the friendly skies…

 

See my first post from one year ago – The journey begins!

 


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Raising Bass for Delaware County (1967)

Screen shot of the article from the January 1967 issue of Pennsylvania Angler.

Screen shot of the article from the January 1967 issue of Pennsylvania Angler.

The title of this blog post may seem a bit strange – but there is a direct connection to Tyler Arboretum!

Back when I was doing some internet research for a future blog post on Carl W. Fenninger, the person for who the holly collection at Tyler Arboretum is named, my online journey took me to an article in the January 1967 issue of Pennsylvania Angler.  On page 21, I came across an article titled “A PFC Co-Op Project – Bass for Delaware County.”  You can access the article at this link:

http://fishandboat.com/anglerboater/75archives/1960s/1967arch/01january1967.pdf

There seems to be quite a history between the Delco Anglers and Conservationist (a co-op trout nursery) and Tyler Arboretum.  From the History section of their website, I found the following:

Delco Anglers and Conservationist were first incorporated in October 1962. … Trout that we use to stock our local streams for the benefit of all fishermen. The nursery’s location for the first 37 years was on the grounds of Tyler Arboretum in Media Pa. We had fish pens that were rectangular raceways about 125 ft. long by 10 ft wide. The nursery has been dedicated to raising various types of trout including Brown, Rainbow, Golden and Pennsylvania’s state fish, the Brook trout, also called “Brookies”. We are proud to be one of the few co-op trout nurseries in the Southeastern part of Pennsylvania that are given fingerling Brook trout to raise.

Pennsylvania Angler is now titled Pennsylvania Angler & Boater Magazine, with its first issue published in December 1931.  The magazine is published by the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission.

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