Journeys of Dr. G at Tyler Arboretum

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

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Earth Day to Arbor Day 2016 at Tyler Arboretum

tylerearthday2016Happy Earth Day! This year, Tyler Arboretum has set up a unique format to this week-long celebration, April 22-29. This year, the Earth Day Network has established the international theme for Earth Day as “Trees for the Earth“, and Tyler Arborteum is encouraging everyone to come and check out their trees?

Why are “trees” the theme for this year’s Earth Day? The Earth Day Network highlights three of their reasons for choosing this focus:

(1) Trees help combat climate change
Trees absorb excess and harmful CO2 from our atmosphere. In fact, in a single year, an acre of mature trees absorbs the same amount of CO2 produced by driving the average car 26,000 miles.

(2) Trees help us breathe clean air
Trees absorb odors and pollutant gases (nitrogen oxides, ammonia, sulfur dioxide and ozone) and filter particulates out of the air by trapping them on their leaves and bark.

(3) Trees help communities
Trees help communities achieve long-term economic and environmental sustainability and provide food, energy and income.

So… Tyler Arboretum wants YOU to celebrate their amazing and historic trees by taking your most creative, artistic or silly photos and sharing them on your favorite social media site (Facebook, Twitter, flickr, Instagram… you name it!).

How to participate: Visit Tyler Arboretum from Earth Day (Friday, April 22) to Arbor Day (Friday, April 29) and post your best photos on social media. Be sure to include the official hashtag #Trees4Earth and Tyler’s own hashtag #TylerEarthDay. Tyler will highlight some of the creative photos on their social media sites!

If you need some inspiration, try these fun approaches, as suggested by the Tyler staff:

• Show your best tree selfie
• Get artistic
• Abstract in nature
• Your unique perspective
• Groupies (matching outfits or costumes are encouraged)
• Tree as habitats: a wildlife safari

NOTE: Please remember to respect the trees and wildlife when staging and taking photos!

I made a quick trek to Tyler today to grab some official Earth Day photos (included below). But I’ll be back tomorrow on Saturday to “Meet the Kids” (the “green goats” from 11AM to 2PM). Looking forward to how everyone celebrates Tyler’s trees from Earth Day to Arbor Day!



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Instagram images from Tyler Arboretum

65% of adults now use social networking sites – a nearly tenfold jump in the past decade — Pew Research Center Report, Social Media Usage: 2005-2015

Instagram DemographicsThere are several different social media platforms that exist. Facebook is still in the lead, but Instagram has been increasing in its numbers and use, seeing more growth than Twitter and LinkedIn (see Pew Research Center Report, Mobile Messaging and Social Media 2015). Are you an Instagram user? If so, why not post an image during your next visit to Tyler Arboretum? If you are not yet an Instagram user, maybe I can convince you to be one! (especially after you see some of the images below)

Instagram ( is a mobile social network that allows users to publicly or privately share images and video via an iPhone, Android, or Windows phone. Third-party Instagram apps are available for BlackBerry 10 and Nokia-Symbian devices. The app is free to download and is required to post the images. Note that the posted images and user accounts can be viewed through any internet browser.

Abbey Dufoe, having fun with Instagram at Tyler Arboretum

Abbey Dufoe, having fun with Instagram at Tyler Arboretum

Below are a few of the Instagram postings myself and Abbey have taken in the past and from a walk I took today with a former student (and former Tyler intern) Abbey Dufoe. Abbey is currently a Web Producer at Climate Central and handles their social media accounts. She was kind enough to stroll with me on the Scenic Loop and show me all of the fun features available on Instagram. I’m excited that her quick introduction to this app has me thinking of different ways to share all that is beautiful about Tyler Arboretum in a single photo, a collection of photos, or even with a 15-second video.

For those of you that are novices-to-experts with Instagram, I encourage you to take and then post at least one photo during your next visit to Tyler Arboretum! Use the hashtags #tylerarboretum and #exploretyler. Don’t forget to mention @tylerarboretum in your posts, too! Importantly, as I mentioned previously, you do not need an Instagram account to view the marvelous collection of images posted by Tyler’s members and visitors. Just click on the links earlier in this paragraph, and you’ll see what I mean.

(Hope to) see you soon on Instagram!



Hover over the center of the image below to play the video I took…



Don’t forget to check out Tyler Arboretum’s Instagram account! @tylerarboretum (

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Fall 2015 Special Events/Communications intern Tom O’Donnell

When Penn State Brandywine senior Tom O’Donnell began his internship at Tyler Arboretum this fall, he had no idea his title of “Special Events/Communications Intern” would translate to him being “the everything guy.” I sat down and chatted with Tom after Pumpkin Days to hear more about what he’s been up to and how his internship has been progressing.

Tom ODonnellTom immediately said to me that he is having a very well-rounded internship. He gets to work on something different every day, and he thoroughly enjoys working with different people. As a senior Communications major, Tom is especially pleased that what he has been learning in class is being directly applied during his internship. He shared an example of learning about newsletter writing in one of his courses – and now, he has contributed to Tyler Topics! (he has also learned that the phrase “you are always going to be edited” rings true…)

This is Tom’s first internship, and he had no idea what to expect when he started. He didn’t know that he would be able to assist with event planning, writing press releases, checking membership lists and names…. the list goes on! Tom strongly encourages all students to consider an internship at Tyler. Although Tyler internships are not paid, Tom shared that, “you get your money’s worth.” Recently, Tom attended a career fair on campus, and one of the employers he spoke with directly pointed out his Tyler internship listed on his resume and told him that an internship at a non-profit looks really good.

In addition to the work experience, Tom said that the Tyler staff are, “really, really nice and fun to talk to.” He said the part of his internship he will miss the most is the people, but he has a strong interest in volunteering for Tyler in the future. Tom shared with me that there’s much more work going into [running] a non-profit than what he feels people realize. Certainly, Tom, Tyler will continue to benefit and grow from your passion and talents you’ll share with the organization in the future!

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Update on Tyler intern alumna Victoria Bolden

“I encourage people everywhere to get to know the people and places in their community and see what is out there!”

Back in Summer 2012, Penn State Brandywine student Victoria Bolden was named a community intern with the campus Laboratory for Civic Engagement. Funded with a generous donation by David and Majorie Rosenberg, Victoria was able to pursue a summer internship with any organization that has a mission of civic/community engagement. For Victoria, there was no question where she wanted to spend her summer – she joined the Horticulture crew at Tyler Arboretum. I wrote a one-page profile about Victoria that summer (available here as a PDF), where she described her internship and provided the quote at the top of this blog post.

img-intern-propFast forward to Fall 2015, when I recently had an opportunity to reconnect with Victoria. She has now graduated from Penn State University, completing her degree in horticulture with a minor in entomology from the University Park campus. She is currently spending her time in a year-long, full-time internship at Morris Arboretum in Philadelphia as the 2015-16 Martha J. Wallace Endowed Plant Propagation Intern (see a description of her duties). While a student, Victoria also completed internships at Longwood Gardens and Mt. Cuba, but I wanted to ask Victoria to reflect upon her experience as an intern at Tyler and how her time at Tyler has helped her as she continues in her career.

Victoria shared that she feels so fortunate that as a Tyler intern, she was able to do it all! She said her education as an intern was incredibly valuable, as this was her first introduction to a variety of plants. She also gained an introduction to how all parts of the Arboretum are run. She enjoyed meeting staff from all of the offices at Tyler and especially spending time alongside the Tyler volunteers as she performed her duties. She feels the education program at Tyler really stands out from area arboreta. Her internship was incredibly hands-on, not just “look at this” or “show and tell.” She said she still values her Tyler connections and have continued to use Tyler staff as a reference for future internships.

In summary, Victoria said that her Tyler Arboretum internship was a great introduction to public gardens and the educational opportunities and programming (especially working with families) that places like Tyler can offer. As we wrapped up our conversation, Victoria encourages anyone that has ever entered the Arboretum, “don’t forget to come back and visit your Tyler family!” Certainly, Victoria still feels that she is a part of Tyler, and I look forward to seeing her at the Arboretum on a future visit.


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PARK(ing) Day Philadelphia 2015 – Tyler’s first “parklet” in the city!

DSCN6711The number of parks throughout Philadelphia increases dramatically each year on the third Friday in September, when activists, artists, architects, and other citizens transform metered parking spaces into temporary public parks. Known as Park(ing) Day, this annual event re-imagines the possibilities of 170 square feet of public space. The event celebrates parks and other public spaces in cities across the country, and raises awareness of the need for more pedestrian-friendly spaces in our urban areas. — About Park(ing) Day

Today, I had a wonderful time volunteering with Tyler Arboretum at their first-ever PARK(ing) Day park! This one-day event, which takes place in locations across the country, was an outstanding opportunity for Tyler Arboretum to bring just a small piece of its 650-acres to Center City and get the word out about our gem in Delaware County.

Tyler's Executive Director Cricket Brien with our friendly fox in the parklet

Tyler’s Executive Director Cricket Brien with our friendly fox in the parklet

I visited my first Philadelphia PARK(ing) Day event in 2013 and blogged about it on my Journeys of Dr. G blog. But the event has grown significantly in just two years, with incredibly fun, festive, and engaging parklets! This year, Tyler joined 51 other parking spaces in the city (see the map) that were set up by other organizations such as the Clean Air Council, Fairmount Park Conservancy, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, US EPA, and other organizations such as Zipcar and SEPTA (our closest neighbors on Market Street and new friends!).

Tyler had a full day of engaging in conversation with people passing by on their way to work, finding their next place to visit as a tourist, or even those specifically going around the city to visit these innovative parking spaces. And we were thrilled to be located right in front of the Fox 29 studios on Market Street and have Sue Serio do a live segment with Tyler’s Executive Director, Cricket Brien!

View Tyler’s Executive Director Cricket Brien being interviewed by Fox 29’s Sue Serio!

I really enjoyed being able to play a part in introducing Tyler Arboretum to people that had no prior knowledge about Tyler, as well as reminding people that knew about Tyler of all of the outdoor opportunities Tyler has to offer. Our fox mascot was such a hit with everyone – in fact, one woman came up to us that said she was having a really bad day, but our parklet made her smile and feel happy, and she took photos of us with her as well as photos with the fox! Seeing her laugh and smile while spending those few minutes in our “slice of Tyler” really made my day. You can see additional images of the fox and our entire parking space in the collection of tweets from Twitter (link below) and the image slideshow.

View tweets that highlighted Tyler Arboretum’s PARK(ing) Day 2015 participation!

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My take-home message from the day includes what I learned from PARK(ing) Day two years ago… I learned that public spaces can be established in urban environments for community-building, conversations, and education, and we should always look for ways to create more of these sites. I learned that parking spaces in Philly can be fun! And although it takes a mini-army to create a parklet (and a special thanks to Redbud Native Plant Nursery for their plant contributions), Tyler can be brought on the road to raise awareness in the community and bring a smile to people’s faces.

Tyler's amazing staff, with Board President Shipley Allinson (blue shirt) right after their early morning set-up of Tyler in the city (photo provided by S. Allinson)

Tyler’s amazing staff, with Board President Shipley Allinson (blue shirt) right after their early morning set-up of Tyler in the city (photo provided by S. Allinson)


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Getting a Fresh START at Tyler Arboretum

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 6.47.56 PMBefore classes even began at Penn State Brandywine this fall, the campus provided an opportunity for incoming freshmen to “get rooted in service.” The Fresh START Day of Service, held on Friday, August 21, encouraged new students to have their first service opportunity through Penn State that would lay the foundation for them to continue service through their academic career and their lifetime.  Stephanie Jones, Associate Director of Student Affairs at Penn State Brandywine, stated, “Our hope is that, through Fresh START, new students will develop lifelong civic engagement and build leadership skills through service.”

And just where did these energetic and enthusiastic incoming freshmen get their Fresh START of service? – at Tyler Arboretum!

Stephanie worked with Julia Lo Ehrhardt, Tyler Arboretum’s Volunteer Coordinator, to offer indoor and outdoor volunteer opportunities.  Some students assisted the fall school program mailer (over 700 pieces of mail were prepared!) and helped prepare for the upcoming Butterfly Festival, while others who were more outdoor oriented and/or interested in ecology or conservation worked with Tyler’s horticulture department in invasive removal and clearing areas of weeks and unruly plants from the Chestnut Orchard to the Wister Rhododendron Garden.  I was able to pop in on the different groups and see some incredible hard work on such a warm day – with all students and Tyler staff with wide smiles on their faces!

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I think this post-event comment from Julia really summarizes what these volunteer efforts mean to Tyler Arboretum:

It is community support that helps Tyler to engage people in an outdoor setting that is joyous and beautiful while conserving our natural resources.  This wonderful outdoor space exists because people like you care enough to volunteer.

I encourage all K-12 schools, colleges and universities, and even other community groups and businesses to gather a group of people and all receive a Fresh START in “getting rooted in service” at Tyler Arboretum!


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Summer 2015 Horticulture intern Luqmaan Richard

“At first, I was the intern. Then I said, ‘I’m Tyler.’ In the end, I was one of them.”  —  Luq Richard, Horticulture Intern at Tyler Arboretum, March-July 2015

As a university professor, I’m always encouraging students to go out and get experience in their field through an internship. I have interviewed two of Tyler’s college interns in the past and written blog posts about their experiences (horticulture intern Emily Pennock and communications intern Jelsy Kravatz), so I’m aware of the amazing mentoring that takes place by the Tyler staff during an internship.

I recently sat down with Penn State Brandywine student Luqmaan Richard, who has just completed five months as an intern with Tyler Arboretum’s Horticulture Department. I had not met Luq before, and sometimes when I sit down with a student for the first time, he/she will hold back during a meeting. This certainly wasn’t the case with Luq! His energy and enthusiasm for talking about his experience at Tyler was a challenge for me to keep up with, and I hope I have done a good job capturing what Luq took away from the internship (when a student starts with “special” and “magical,” then you know you are in for a great conversation!).

Luq Richard, Penn State Brandywine student and Tyler Horticulture Intern, 2015

Luq Richard, Penn State Brandywine student and Tyler Horticulture Intern, 2015

Luq is pursuing a major in plant sciences at Penn State, but he likes to say that his passion for science and the outdoors came from growing up in the forest (and he is still growing up in the forest, where he receives a wisdom and appreciation for all life). Luq had gardening and landscaping experience in the past, but his time at Tyler Arboretum was his first true internship. And Luq was quick to point out that he did not “feel” like an intern for very long. He was able to wake up every day and know that he was going to do something fun, whether it be helping a staff member with an existing project, helping with the cross-pollination in the chestnut orchard, to working with the volunteers (who were “really fun”), to being able to take ownership of his own project. Luq embraced being part of the Tyler community, “working to contribute” and to “make something more beautiful.” Luq jokingly nicknamed his time at Tyler as the “Goldilocks Internship,” because it wasn’t just what he learned about plants, but also his interactions with the people at Tyler – “everyone’s heart was open, even on my last day… they are good people that every day helped me grow.”

I asked Luq if there was any particular project he worked on that he was most proud of, or any place in Tyler where he feels he left his mark. He said it would be the Itea plant, located on the path from the visitor’s center, on the right side across from the Storybook tree house. Luq said it was the time of Tyler at Twilight in June, and he knew this was a very important event for Tyler. As everyone on the staff was busy making the last-minute preparations, Luq saw this plant and knew it would be the last plant visitors see before turning the corner to head to the tent for TAT. He wanted the Itea to look really nice for the visitors that evening and on future visits, so he spent hours clipping the Itea to bring more life and energy into the plant. (looks great, Luq!) Be sure to take a look at the Itea on your next visit to Tyler and think of Luq!

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Luq really wanted me to emphasize to any students that might be reading this blog post that, “you will be respected and trusted as an equal, and not treated as an underling.” Luq is transitioning to getting ready for the fall semester, but he said, “if I had one more week, I would just keep working at Tyler Arboretum.” I’m going to keep an eye out for Luq at Tyler – I have a feeling I’ll be seeing him on the trails and volunteering at some of Tyler’s events!

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Ecosystem services provided by Tyler Arboretum’s historic tulip tree

(The following is a guest post by Penn State Brandywine undergraduate student researcher Ami Iannello)

Penn State Brandywine student researchers Ami, Erin and Ben (left to right).

Penn State Brandywine student researchers Ami, Erin and Ben (left to right).

Three students at Penn State Brandywine were given the opportunity to do a six-week engaged scholarship project at Tyler Arboretum. Students Erin Hawk, Ami Iannello, and Ben Coon have been visiting Tyler Arboretum weekly to collect data for their research project. Erin and Ami have been collecting measurements such as the height and circumference of the historic trees in the Painter Collection, while Ben has been taking photos of the same trees and collecting the GPS coordinates in order to work with generating a custom Google Map for the project. Erin and Ami have entered their measurement into a site called “PhillyTreeMap.” This site is a crowd-sourced database which utilizes the tree height and circumference from a measured tree and computes the “ecobenefits” and how many dollars per year a specific tree (example: energy conserved, stormwater filtered, etc.), is saving our community, just by simply being there.

It may be a little confusing as to what “measuring” the trees really means. To collect their data, Erin and Ami have been using numerous tools and techniques in order to communicate the most accurate information to their audience.

To measure the tree circumference, the girls identified where they would measure around the tree trunk at four feet six inches off of the ground. They then used a tape measure, being sure the tape measure stayed level around the trunk, to measure each tree circumference. For bumpy trees, Erin and Ami measured the narrowest point anywhere below the four feet six inches. For leaning trees, they measure the four feet six inches in a diagonal with the lean. Finally, with multi-trunk trees, the girls measured each trunk separately, being sure not to add the circumferences together.

Erin (left) and Ami (right) measuring around a tulip tree.

Erin (left) and Ami (right) measuring around a tulip tree.

To measure tree height, Erin and Ami had to take a different approach, because, of course, they could not simply use a tape measure for this portion of their project. The girls used a method described by Utah State University Extension with a yardstick in which they measured the distance from their eye to the tips of their fingers along a yardstick on themselves and made a line. Next, one of the girls walked backwards, however many feet, holding the yardstick straight with her line at the bottom of the tree until the yardstick was the height of the tree. With a rolling distance measuring wheel, the other girl started walking from the base of the tree to the heel of her partner in order to calculate the height. Erin and Ami preformed this task three times from multiple angles around the tree and took the average of the three numbers in order to record the most accurate height of each tree.


Erin lining up the yardstick with the height of the tree, while Ben documents the research process with photos.

Erin lining up the yardstick with the height of the tree, while Ben documents the research process with photos.

The historic tulip tree that we measured, with the ecohealth data presented in this blog post.

The historic tulip tree that we measured, with the ecobenefit data presented in this blog post.

Here is an example of one of the historic trees at Tyler Arboretum that was measured along the Scenic Loop and the “Yearly Ecosystem Services” in which it provides:

Yearly Ecosystem Services for the Tulip Tree (Liriodendron tulipifera), as calculated by PhillyTreeMap

A part of the Historic Tree Collection at Tyler Arboretum

Carbon dioxide stored to date 7,683.9 lbs $25
Energy conserved 2,262.3 kwh/year $285
Carbon dioxide removed 674.2 lbs/year $2
Air quality improved 6.0 lbs/year $28
Stormwater filtered 6,213.3 gal/year $61


This information highlights that historic trees at Tyler Arboretum, such as this tulip tree, are not only beautiful to admire and historic in value, but all of Tyler’s trees have a positive impact on the environment and society around them.

We will be continuing to work on collecting our data, and we will share our results, along with Ben’s Google Map, at the end of the summer – stay tuned!


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Make Tyler Arboretum your next microadventure!

Many teachers and families are soon transitioning from a school year to summer schedule.  If your schedule is too packed to get that extended getaway to refresh and reconnect with the outdoors, why not make sure you can at least make time for a microadventure?

2012 National Geographic Adventurer Alastair Humphreys is credited with promoting the term “microadventure.”  Microadventures are affordable, local trips, what Alastair refers to as “short, perspective-shifting bursts of travel closer to home” (see NYT article).  These adventures might be a hike through a local state park you just never made the time to visit, or a stroll through a local city by moonlight, a canoe trip in a local river – however you want to define your adventure!

Penn State Brandywine finished with its spring semester in May, and the campus walking club decided to celebrate by spending a Friday afternoon lunch hour strolling along the Scenic Loop and through the Rhododendron Garden.  We had a WONDERFUL time not just escaping the office for an hour, but spending some time connecting with nature and with each other.  The new signage Tyler has been installing by the Painter Trees provided some informative historical information, and with each tree tagged and labeled, we could easily identify each of the trees we were looking at!

I recommend everyone kick off their summer with a microadventure at Tyler!  Why not take a microadventure with friends, family visiting from out-of-town, your co-workers, your neighbors, and anyone else that has a desire to explore the outdoors?

Members of Penn State Brandywine's walking club, spending their lunch hour strolling through Tyler Arboretum!

Members of Penn State Brandywine’s walking club, spending their lunch hour strolling through Tyler Arboretum!  Photo taken by S. Allinson.

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Promoting and protecting the historic Painter trees

There is no doubt that the winter season is in full swing, but that certainly doesn’t mean that the Tyler staff have gone in to hibernation!  There are so many winter-themed hikes and programs taking place (have you marked your calendar for the annual Pancake Breakfast on February 28th? (see Upcoming Events)), as well as improvements to the grounds.

For example, if you bundle up and take a quick stroll inside the fence, you will notice some exciting new educational signage near the historic Painter Trees.  Before, we had were the small blue markers on the trees that called our attention to the location of these trees.  These signs provide some additional information about the collection and its significance.

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Around three of the historic Painter Trees, you will see a fence constructed around the base.  The fencing is there to protect the root system of these valuable trees, to make sure the trees are preserved for visitors to enjoy for years to come.


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And the fencing does not prevent us from capturing some excellent photos of and with the trees.  Check out my “selfie with the sequoia,” taken while standing right next to the fence!


Showing my love for this State Champion Giant Sequoia with a selfie!

Showing my love for this State Champion Giant Sequoia with a selfie!




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A Case Study with Toilet Paper Roll Volunteers, Part 2



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


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…



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:


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.



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:


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:

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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Tyler Tales and Labels in Braille

One of the ways I prepare posts for this blog is to have several entries “in progress” and select one to finalize and have go “live” each week.  One post I had in a very early draft form was on the connection of Helen Keller and Tyler Arboretum – and it looks like one of Tyler’s student interns for the summer beat me to getting a post online on this very topic!

So I first have to give a “virtual shout out” to Tyler Arboretum’s latest blog, called Tyler Tales.  This new blog journeys through the fascinating history and legacy of Tyler Arboretum.  Early contributors to Tyler Tales includes Tyler staff members Kathryn Ombam and Chris Lawler, as well as new Education Department summer intern Shannon Crowe (who just happens to be an undergraduate student at my school, Penn State Brandywine!).  Note that you can sign up to receive email updates every time a new post is added – just enter your email in the box on the right side of the Tyler Tales home page, and you will soon receive posts on a range of topics.  My favorite post so far has been the very first one – it contains a photo of the original land deed between William Penn and Thomas Minshall (circa 1682).

Shannon recently wrote a post titled “An Unexpected Connection: Helen Keller and Tyler’s Fragrant Garden.”  This post includes photos from a letter Helen Keller sent to the Arboretum, dated December 3, 1950, adding her support for the creation of a fragrant garden.  Please read Shannon’s post – again, another fascinating story from Tyler’s history!

In my early searching for information on Tyler’s efforts to establish a garden for the blind, I came across this 1949 newspaper article that pre-dates Helen Keller’s letter:

From the Chester Times newspaper archive, August 26, 1949, page 7. Accessible at:

From the Chester Times newspaper archive, August 26, 1949, page 7. Accessible at:

I also found an article called “Notes and Comments: Garden for the Blind,” in the American Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboretums Newsletter 2 no.1, (January 1951): pages 7-8, that references “in 1951 the John J. Tyler Arboretum, in Media Pennsylvania set up labels in Braille for the blind.”  Clearly, Tyler’s work made local and national news!

Tyler’s Fragrant Garden is definitely going to be on my “list of places to explore” the next time I stop by the Arboretum!


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Geocaching begins at Tyler Arboretum on National Trails Day


For those of us that love navigating the outdoors with a GPS unit in hand, I have some exciting news to share.  During the National Trails Day celebration on Saturday, June 7, two official geocaches will be activated at Tyler Arboretum!  If you are unfamiliar with geocaching, check out the short introductory video below.

Maybe you aren’t a geocacher, but you would like to learn more.  You are in luck!  Andy Harobin and I, both on the Board of Trustees at Tyler Arboretum and avid geocachers, will be at Tyler for National Trails Day from 11AM to 3PM to teach you about this outdoor game (think of a scavenger hunt).  We will have handheld GPS units to loan you if you want to practice geocaching on a mini-course we have set up “in the fence” at the Arboretum, appropriate for young and old, individuals and families.  Then, if you are feeling adventurous, you can head out and find the two official geocaches set up on the official Geocaching network.

Of course, if you have your own GPS unit, bring it along to try our practice course and to find the caches on your own.  Don’t have a GPS unit and want to get a jump start geocaching on your own?  The official Geocaching app is also available for download on the iPhone, Android, and Windows 7 phone at:  Get your app downloaded and ready ahead of time to join us for the fun.

Don’t forget that there are several other activities going on at Tyler Arboretum for National Trails Day, such as:

  • From 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. volunteer your time to work with our horticulture crew on some much needed trail maintenance and gain free admission for the entire day. Pre-registration required by contacting Julia Lo Ehrhardt at 610-566-9134, ext. 205 or; must be 13 or older to participate.
  • Orienteering demonstrations led by the Delaware Valley Orienteering Association (DVOA) and self-guided hikes from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. They will offer maps with a shorter family hike and maps for a longer adventurer hike, perfect for Boy Scout requirements.
  • Adult Critter Hike from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
  • Bluebird education from 11 a.m.-1 p.m., with a Bluebird Hike appropriate for all ages at 11:30 a.m.
  • Adult History Hike from 1:30-3 p.m.
  • Educational displays

I hope to see you at Tyler for National Trails Day!


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A Rhododendron Stroll at Tyler Arboretum

Rhododendron gardener Jerry O'dell, pointing out features on one of the shrubs.

Rhododendron gardener Jerry O’Dell, pointing out features on one of the shrubs.

The rhodendrons are in full bloom, with gorgeous shades of white, pink, fushia, and vibrant reds.  I knew I only had a short time to experience this 13-acre site within Tyler Arboretum’s fence.  On Friday, I headed out to join the tour of the Wister Rhododenron Garden (and since I had just blogged about Wister last week, I was now ready to see the beauty of his hard work).  The walking tour description follows:

Revel in the beauty of 13 acres of azaleas and rhododendrons on an informative tour led by Jerry O’Dell, Tyler’s Gardener responsible for the care and rejuvenation of the Wister Rhododendron Garden. This amazing heritage collection contains hundreds of varieties and species with a bloom season that stretches from spring to early summer. Each week is different as new plants come into bloom so come back often to enjoy the show.

There were seven of us that joined Jerry on the tour, with 3 people coming back for second tour, and one person that had been on the tour every single week!  This hour-and-a-half tour was filled with enjoyable conversation and questions expertly answered by Tyler’s rhododendron gardener.

Jerry said that the peak of the blossoms is typically between May 10-16, but the plants are running a little late this year.  As we started walking, we quickly noticed that there are many more plants beyond rhododendrons and azaleas!  We learned that Tyler is moving this area away from a “collection” and having it as more of a “garden,” complete with “rooms” that will have unique plants and a focus.  For example, the impressive hostas, especially the blue hostas, were in beds donated by the Delaware Valley Hosta Society.

But first – a little more history on the Rhododendron Garden, from Tyler Arboretum’s website:

It took years before Dr. Wister was able to begin planting the extensive rhododendron collection adjacent to the Pinetum (collection of pines and other conifers). Cultivated fields in the 1930s and 1940s, by the 1950s Dr. Wister described the area as a thick jungle of weedy tulip and ash trees, many of which had blown down in a hurricane in 1954 and snowstorm in 1958. Compounded by inadequate labor, planting was impossible until 1959. Dr. Wister described the establishment of the Pinetum rhododendrons as the most important development undertaken at the Arboretum, and by the end of 1959 the collection numbered more than 500 rhododendrons and 200 azaleas. He wrote, “These quantities are not so important as the number of species, varieties and hybrid strains… these alone should make a collection second to none in Pennsylvania.”

Below are some photos from the tour – please enjoy!


I learned from Jerry that the garden contains cultivar and hybrid strains of rhododendrons.  Wistar only utilized a few hybridizers – primarily,  Joseph Gables, Guy Nearing, and Charles Dexter.  All three of these horticulturalists have fascinating histories and followed interesting naming rules for their hybrids.  For example, Gables named the Caroline after his daughter, and Dexter named several of his hybrids from towns on Cape Cod.

Jerry mentioned that the construction of the deer fence really helped the health of the rhododendrons. Before the 110 acres were protected by the deer fence enclosure, deer freely roamed the property and would “enjoy” these beautiful plants for themselves! A few of the shrubs are still bare from the deer grazing, but most have recovered remarkably.

In addition to not taking any photos of the fence (actually, I didn’t even notice it on the outermost edge of the garden), I also did not take any photos of the wonderful porous asphalt pathway that provides accessibility to anyone that wants to stroll through the gardens – and also plays an important role in stormwater management!


You have one more opportunity this year to join Jerry on a Rhododendron Stroll on Friday, May 30, from 10AM to 11:30AM.  The tour is free with admission, and no pre-registration is required.  And if you are looking for a more scientific introduction to rhododendrons, be sure to check out the online Journal American Rhododendron Society.

This is one of my favorite photos from the stroll.  This little visitor had her own digital camera and was snapping photos of all the pink blossoms, the leaves, and more!  I think Tyler has helped spark an interest in a future nature photographer!

This is one of my favorite photos from the stroll. This little visitor had her own digital camera and was snapping photos of all the pink blossoms, the leaves, and more! I think Tyler has helped spark an interest in a future nature photographer!


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Who was John Caspar Wister?

With a weather forecast of 100% chance of heavy rain tomorrow, I don’t think I’ll be able to make it to Tyler Arboretum tomorrow morning for the Rhododendron Stroll (maybe next Friday at 10AM, the weather will be better!).  So I decided to learn more about the Rhododendron Garden, starting with the name on a plaque I have come across many times when I’ve ventured off the Scenic Loop:


The name “Wister” is certainly visible around the Arboretum, and this plaque in the Rhododendron Garden gives a hint as to the contributions John Wister made to the Arboretum.  I knew prior to seeing this plaque that Wister was the first-ever director of Tyler Arboretum, but then my internet search led me to more titles for John Wister, such as “dean of American horticulturists,” “Mister Rhododendron,” co-founder and president of the American Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboreta (now the American Public Gardens Association), and secretary of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society.

I won’t repeat here everything that can be found online about Dr. Wister – such as the fact that he was a private in World War I, had an honorary doctorate degree from Swarthmore College, did not get married until he was 73 years old, etc.  The Wikipedia page on John Wister has a nice listing of the books he published, and thanks to a tip from one of Tyler’s horticultural staff, I found some papers written by Wister that are archived online.

If you want to get a sense for John Wister (1887-1982) and his amazing depth of knowledge relating to rhododendrons, azaleas, and other horticultural topics, I encourage you to read through these short articles in the Journal American Rhododendron Society (feel free to search their archives for the complete record of Wister publications – well over 50 exist!):

Additional papers written in this journal about John Wister include:

In addition to the sites I linked above, please do take the time to look at the sections on Tyler’s website (the Tyler Topics Winter 2011-12 issue, and the About and Donor pages) to learn more about this remarkable, passionate man that literally laid the groundwork for us to have this Arboretum and amazing rhododendron garden that we have today.

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National Public Gardens Day 2014

One of the crafting stations - making color stamps of fruits and vegetables (I was so tempted to make a sheet of color-stamped food myself!).

One of the crafting stations – making color stamps of fruits and vegetables (I was so tempted to make a sheet of color-stamped food myself!).

Happy National Public Gardens Day, everyone!  According to their website, “National Public Gardens Day is an annual celebration of the nation’s public gardens to raise awareness of the important role botanical gardens and arboreta play in promoting environmental stewardship, plant and water conservation, green spaces, and education in communities nationwide.”  Tyler Arboretum joined in the celebration by having festivities for kids and free admission to visitors.  I decided to make a quick trip over to Tyler to check out their events, and I was pleased to see so many school buses and vans taking advantage of bringing kids out on this warm day.

My photos below capture some of the fun and excitement for the kids.  I also continued walking around and met up with the Rhododendron Stroll led by Jerry O’Dell, Tyler’s Rhododendron Gardener.  He said that in one week, the rhododendrons should be in bloom – maybe I’ll come back next Friday at 10AM to join this free program!

Jessica Dimuzio did three book readings of her latest release, Bow Wow Wow! Green Beans Now?  This book tells of canine conservation hero Johnny Angel’s quest for his favorite treat–garden-fresh, mouth-picked green beans–and humorously introduces kids to organic gardening.

Jessica Dimuzio did three book readings of her latest release, Bow Wow Wow! Green Beans Now? This book tells of canine conservation hero Johnny Angel’s quest for his favorite treat–garden-fresh, mouth-picked green beans–and humorously introduces kids to organic gardening.

A station was set up for kids to plant their own beans in a clever newspaper pouch with soil.

A station was set up for kids to plant their own beans in a clever newspaper pouch with soil.

National Public Gardens Day takes place annually on the Friday before Mother’s Day, an unofficial start of spring.  Mark your calendars now for next year’s event on Friday, May 8, 2015!

There's no doubt spring is just about here! Strolling through Tyler allows you to see the bright greens and colorful blossoms coming out.

There’s no doubt spring is just about here! Strolling through Tyler allows you to see the bright greens and colorful blossoms coming out.

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What a communications internship is like at Tyler Arboretum

“Tyler Arboretum goes above and beyond in providing an excellent, well-rounded internship experience to prepare you for any post-graduation opportunity.”  —  Jelsy Kravatz, Communications Intern at Tyler Arboretum, April 2014

This month, I had the pleasure of meeting with Jelsy Kravatz, the Communications Intern at Tyler Arboretum this spring.  Jelsy is a senior at Immaculata University, majoring in Communications with an emphasis in Public Relations and Journalism.  Jelsy is from the local area, and she has been visiting Tyler Arboretum since she was a kid.  Jelsy has always had a passion for volunteering and the outdoors, and her work with non-profits like Tyler Arboretum solidified her interests in pursuing a career as a communications specialist.  It was one of her communications professors that recommended Jelsy apply for the internship.

Meet Jelsy Kravatz!

Meet Jelsy Kravatz!

I was so pleased that Jelsy was willing to sit down and talk with me about her internship experience – I know that at times, undergraduate students get nervous speaking with professors that they have never had in class before.  But Jelsy was bursting with so much exciting news and stories to share about her internship, I had a hard time taking notes to capture the conversation!  Jelsy’s goal in sitting down with me was for me to help her get the word out to other college students about the full experience Tyler offers to their interns.  So, let’s see if I can convince any undergraduate students reading this post to apply for a Tyler Arboretum internship (listed on the Internships at Tyler page).

Before I could ask any questions, Jelsy wanted me to know that the number one part of her internship has been the people of Tyler Arboretum.  She said the environment at Tyler is “exciting – you get a friendly, welcoming feeling every day.”  She said the staff makes you feel included and that you are not just looked at as an intern.  In fact, Jelsy has been able to sit in on committee meetings and even be a part of committees where she can take on tasks and responsibilities!  Jelsy has contributed creative ideas for Tyler’s annual events, and she’s thrilled that she was able to come up with her own creative ideas and “run with them.”

One of the programming features I find unique to Tyler’s internship program is that the interns are encouraged to shadow staff from across all of the departments, beyond the one where students have their internship.  Jelsy certainly took advantage of this opportunity and has been shadowing staff from the education and horticulture departments, highlighting how “really cool” it was to go around the property with Director of Horticulture Mike Karkowski on a gator.  Jelsy even got to shadow Tyler’s Executive Director Rick Colbert.

Jelsy gives much credit to Tyler’s Communications Specialist Laura McPhail.  She said that Laura has been an incredible teacher and mentor, allowing Jelsy to write articles for the newsletter, update the website, write press releases, and post on Tyler’s social media accounts.  Jelsy also was required to do research to obtain facts and the background for the topics she worked on, giving her what she referred to as a “full experience.”  Jesly said she is “really proud” when she sees something get published about Tyler Arboretum.

Jelsy worked at Tyler three days a week and put in 15 hours per week for her internship – and then an extra 100 hours, because she loved the internship so much.  Jelsy couldn’t state enough how much it meant to her that she was able to apply what she had learned in class and even improve upon her skills, such as writing and formatting more efficiently and in AP style writing.  In her own words… “I have learned the ins and outs of the PR world, and I have been able to challenge myself with new opportunities every day.”

In a nutshell, these are the four biggest points of the internship Jelsy wants every undergraduate student to know:

(1) The people at Tyler Arboretum make it worthwhile;

(2) You will fall in love with Tyler Arboretum;

(3) The experience as a communications intern at Tyler Arboretum cannot be matched by any other organization; and

(4) Because of the internship, Jelsy feels prepared for any fast-paced PR job in the future.

Jelsy’s first volunteer event was helping out at the Pancake Breakfast and Maple Sugaring Celebration back in February.  When her internship finishes, Jelsy plans to stay on as a volunteer to help in all areas of the arboretum, and she’s hoping to grow the network of Tyler volunteers in their teens and 20’s.  I’m sure I will not only see Jelsy in person but “in the press” in connection to Tyler, as she continues to raise awareness about Tyler Arboretum being “a community treasure.”

Perhaps I should add another bullet point to Jelsy’s list from above… one comment that I as a faculty member found to be one of Jelsy’s most powerful statements – “I don’t have to be a college graduate to make a difference.”  If I was grading Jelsy on her internship experience, she would earn an A+ from me!



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Make a #GlobalSelfie with NASA on Earth Day at Tyler Arboretum!

#GlobalSelfie on Earth Day for NASAI hope the title of this blog post has grabbed your attention!  I think this will be a really fun opportunity on Earth Day to get outdoors, take a photo of yourself in the outdoors, and do all of this at Tyler Arboretum!  And who knows… we could get Tyler Arboretum in NASA’s latest mosaic image of planet Earth!

Below, I’ve copied the text from the NASA website on NASA’s #GlobalSelfie Earth Day.  I would suggest getting out to several places across the Tyler property to show the world what incredible diversity is across the arboretum – from the ponds to the serpentine barren!  When you take your selfie, you’ll want to include the sign NASA has created (which can be printed from their website as a JPG or PDF), and I would suggest adding the tag #tylerarboretum to your online posting of your image (using Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google+ or Flickr).  This way, we know which Tyler images to look for in NASA’s global collage!

Have fun on Earth Day!


Make a #GlobalSelfie with NASA on Earth Day

NASA invites you — and everyone else on the planet — to take part in a worldwide celebration of Earth Day this year with the agency’s #GlobalSelfie event.

The year 2014 is a big one for NASA Earth science. Five NASA missions designed to gather critical data about our home planet are launching to space this year. NASA is marking this big year for Earth science with a campaign called Earth Right Now, and as part of this campaign the agency is asking for your help this Earth Day, April 22.

While NASA satellites constantly look at Earth from space, on Earth Day we’re asking you to step outside and take a picture of yourself wherever you are on Earth. Then post it to social media using the hashtag #GlobalSelfie.

Here are the details.

What’s a #GlobalSelfie?

Two people pose with a NASA #GlobalSelfie signNASA astronauts brought home the first ever images of the whole planet from space. Now NASA satellites capture new images of Earth every second. For Earth Day we are trying to create an image of Earth from the ground up while also fostering a collection of portraits of the people of Earth. Once those pictures stream around the world on Earth Day, the individual pictures tagged #GlobalSelfie will be used to create a mosaic image of Earth — a new “Blue Marble” built bit by bit with your photos.

Need an idea of what kind of picture to take? Get outside and show us mountains, parks, the sky, rivers, lakes — wherever you are, there’s your picture. Tell us where you are in a sign, words written in the sand, spelled out with rocks — or by using the printable signs we’ve created that are available at the bottom of this linked page.

The Earth mosaic image itself and a video using the images will be put together and released in May.

How do I take part?

We’ll be monitoring photos posted to five social media sites: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google+ and Flickr.

Post your photo to Twitter, Instagram or Google+ using the hashtag #GlobalSelfie, or post it to the #GlobalSelfie event page on Facebook or the #GlobalSelfie group on Flickr.

Why a #GlobalSelfie?

NASA scientists have helped identify thousands of new planets out in the universe in recent years. But the space agency studies no planet more closely than our own. With 17 Earth-observing missions orbiting our home planet right now — and several more launching this year — NASA studies Earth’s atmosphere, land and oceans in all their complexity.

This satellite data helps NASA scientists piece together a clear picture of our planet from a scientific viewpoint. On this Earth Day, we wanted to create a different picture of our planet — a crowd-sourced collection of snapshots of the people of Earth that we could use to create one unique mosaic of the Blue Marble.

So, come April 22, take a second to step outside and join us in celebrating our home planet.

(news story from NASA)


The Frogs are Calling!

Frog information is available at the Tyler Arboretum visitor center!

Frog information is available at the Tyler Arboretum visitor center!

Today is the warmest day yet for 2014, with the forecast predicting a high of 80 degrees!  I headed out to Tyler Arboretum with an objective in mind – timing how long it would take me to hike on the Pink Hill Trail to the Serpentine Barren to start thinking about a fall fieldtrip there with my students.  But as I was heading out on the multi-use trail to exit the fence through door #7, I quickly became distracted by the ponds along the trail (I should clarify – distracted by the NOISES coming from the ponds along the trail!).

To hear what I was hearing, watch/listen to this short video clip (you may need to wait a few seconds for the video to begin – but it is worth the wait!).

Yes, it is that time of year, when the frogs are out at Tyler Arboretum!  I could not believe how many frogs were “singing,” making sure that everyone could hear them when walking towards and away from the ponds.  And the frogs were very easy to spot near the shallow edges of the ponds.  I wish I knew more about these amphibians, as there is quite a bit of diversity among the frogs I was able to spot.  I’ve included some images below.  Just note that as you walk towards the ponds, the frogs will see you coming and probably stop their singing – but only for a moment, before the chorus starts back up again.

As I was going through the Tyler Arboretum website, I came across 12 Months of Fun at Tyler.  If you haven’t explored this new resource, you should certainly check it out.  I was pleased to find that the resources for March included none other than Frogs!  The resource is designed for parents to explore with children, but I found it a great starting point to try to identify the frogs I spotted on my adventure at the Arboretum today.

If anyone can help me with the identifications, please leave a comment below this blog post – and thank you!


Unknown frog #1


Unknown frog #2

Unknown frog #2

Unknown frog #3

Unknown frog #3

Unknown frog #4

Unknown frog #4

And, finally, one final link to another video where I captured the frogs calling out to all Tyler visitors! (no frog images – just enjoy the sounds!)

RANDOM FACT – Just a few days ago, the state of California proposed a bill to name the red-legged frog the official state amphibian!  Read more at The Washington Post.