Journeys of Dr. G at Tyler Arboretum

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

Leave a comment

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!



Leave a comment

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 (

Leave a comment

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!

Leave a comment

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.


Leave a comment

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!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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)


Leave a comment

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!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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!


Leave a comment

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!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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!