Journeys of Dr. G at Tyler Arboretum

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


PA Chapter of The American Chestnut Foundation Fall Meeting

The Pennsylvania Chapter of The American Chestnut Foundation (PA-TACF) held their annual fall meeting at Tyler Arboretum on Saturday, November 2.  If you have been following this blog, then you have seen my previous posts on the Chestnut Nursery program that Tyler participates in with The American Chestnut Foundation – all managed by the amazing volunteers that donate their time to Tyler!

The meeting began with some announcements by the chapter president, and then the morning continued with two talks on “A Sense of Place – Northern Research Station of the USDA Forest Service” and “Are Deer Facilitating Plant Invasions?”  After some general membership announcements and lunch, the talks continued with “USDA-ARS Research Update on Renewable Fuels from Agricultural Feedstocks and Forestry Feedstocks…” and the final talk by… yours truly!  I was asked to give a talk that served as an overview of Tyler Arboretum (what I titled “The Tyler Experience”).  After my talk, the meeting adjourned to going over and visiting Tyler Chestnut Nursery and/or going on an exploration of Tyler’s sites and trails.  The full agenda can be viewed online.

The meeting was held in The Barn and had over 50 people in attendance.  I sat in the back row and saw an audience very engaged and passionate about not only their work restoring the American chestnut, but also very interested in learning about the related topics shared by the speakers.

2013 PA Chapter Meeting, The American Chestnut Foundation

Kristine Averill (PhD candidate from Penn State University) speaking on her research, examining whether deer demonstrate a preference for native or invasive exotics

As my academic training is mostly in the physical sciences and not as deep in the natural sciences, I learned quite a bit at this meeting!  I’ve had an introduction to the chestnut work through my own reading and volunteering with Tyler, but this conference was very helpful in framing the “big picture” of the ecosystem and related fields.  I was also interested to see the PA Chapter was selling Biltmore Sticks, a measurement tool I had read about but had never seen before (learn more online and in this video about this field tool).


Photo of a Biltmore Stick

There was also a mention during the General Membership Announcements section about the need to do even more outreach, and the chapter had this very nice display set up that was geared to teach younger kids about the American chestnut.  I agree that each one of us has the opportunity to “get the word out,” whether it be through public talks or using social media (you can “like” the PA-TACF Facebook page) – or, by blogging (like I do!).

2013 PA Chapter Meeting, The American Chestnut Foundation

Display created by the PA Chapter of The American Chestnut Foundation, used for outreach and education purposes

Overall, I was honored to be able to share the mission of Tyler with this group, as well as provide a peak in to the history, nature, and education mission of the Arboretum.  And I even learned some new items along the way – the USDA Forest Service is doing science to keep “forests in forestry,” deer population management will help in managing plant invasions, and there is much research being done (and that continues to be worked on) relating to biofuels.

This is one of many, many events I know where Tyler serves as a host for outside organizations to have meetings, receptions, etc.  For the PA Chapter of The American Chestnut Foundation, I can’t think of a more perfect setting they could have selected for their meeting!

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What goes on at a Board of Trustees meeting?

Tyler Arboretum - my Board name tag!If you read my About this Site page, you may recall I mentioned that I serve on the Board of Trustees at Tyler Arboretum. Led by Chairman Guy Messick, this dedicated group of individuals meets every two months to oversee that the core values and of purpose of Tyler are addressed and carried out. I started my term on the Board in 2011, and I am honored to be working with such a group of dedicated, talented people that share the same passion for Tyler Arboretum as I do.

You might be wondering… what exactly happens at a Tyler Board meeting? The first agenda item at every meeting may surprise you. It is not the approval of the minutes from the previous meeting. Instead, the Chair of the Board begins by reading the mission statement of Tyler:

Tyler Arboretum Mission Statement:  To preserve, develop, and share our diverse horticultural, historic, and natural site resources in order to stimulate stewardship and an understanding of our living world.

It is important for each of us to be reminded of our purpose and role on the Board, and the reading of the mission statement reminds us of what Tyler represents and what we are working to preserve, to conserve, and to inform and educate others about.

Then, we continue with the approval of the minutes from the previous meeting. We also receive reports ahead of time to review so we can ask questions and have discussions related to the summaries. These reports are prepared by Tyler’s Executive Director Rick Colbert, Director of Horticulture Mike Karkowski, and Director of Public Programs Betsey Ney. I am always amazed when I read these reports just how active all units of the arboretum are year-round! Board committees also provide updates, and this time we heard from the Executive Committee, Asset Management Committee, Education Committee, and the Tyler at Twilight chair Aralisha Newbold (yes, the planning for this June event takes place over an entire year!).

But the meeting is not just reports on what activities have been done in the past. The Board also discusses future projects – and Tyler has some exciting ones in store (think garden, sustainability, education…). I don’t want to give anything away, but something critical to the success of these future projects, and to continue existing programs and exhibits, relates back to effective networking and fundraising. And this is where the Board plays a very important role. We are, in essence, ambassadors to/for Tyler, and when each of us agreed to serve on the Board, we agreed to contribute our time, connections, talents, skills, and resources to help advance that mission of Tyler we hear about at the beginning of every Board meeting.

This Thursday, I’m thrilled that in my role as a Board member, I will be able to attend a reception celebrating those who made the creation of Tyler’s Scenic Loop possible. After the dedication ceremony, I’ll be joining others coming by to “ride, roll & stroll the Scenic Loop”. I look forward to seeing how other Tyler members explore the Loop on this special day. Hope to see you there!

Board of Trustees meeting at Tyler Arboretum

This is only half of the Board pictured here from our meeting on July 15 in the Terrace Room of “The Barn.” Rick Colbert is pictured on the far left, and next to him is Guy Messick.