Journeys of Dr. G at Tyler Arboretum

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

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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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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!