An Arboretum Takes Root: An Intergenerational Effort

The John Bartram Arboretum at Kendal at Oberlin, was accredited by ArbNet as a Level I arboretum through the initiative and work of Kendal residents, support from Kendal at Oberlin’s CEO, Barbara Thomas, and the Horticulture Committee. Funding for the arboretum comes from the Kendal at Oberlin Resident Association, Kendal Charitable Funds and Kendal residents.

One of Kendal’s values in practice is responsibility and concern for the appropriate use and conservation of the land through good stewardship. The arboretum provides this opportunity along with its use as an educational resource.

An Intergenerational Partnership with Oberlin College

OC Day of Service
College Students work with residents on many Kendal projects.

Students enrolled in the Environmental Studies Program at neighboring Oberlin College are assisting with the arboretum project. They learned from their professor that an opportunity for hands-on experience was available on the 100+ acre soon to be designated arboretum. A team of three students spent the fall semester under the tutelage of arboretum committee members Arlene Dunn, Larry Dunn, Anne Helm and Melissa Reed, who shared their knowledge and mapped out the work to be done. The spring semester brought another team of students.

Larry Dunn explained that the first group of students surveyed the trees on a segment of the campus, captured their GPS coordinates (latitude, longitude), gathered resource information about each tree type, and observed the general condition of each individual specimen.

The second group worked with the same sample of trees and conducted a more detailed tree condition survey. They were doing a proof-of-concept test of a tree assessment protocol being developed for arboretum volunteers to use. They also entered all of their field notes about each tree in the new arboretum catalog/database system that is currently under development.

Students Bring Energy to the Arboretum Project

Anne Helm said, “It is fantastic to have the involvement of Oberlin College students in our Arboretum work. They bring energy and dedication to the future of a greener Oberlin as we all grow in understanding of this amazing and complex world of trees.”

Larry added, “We have enjoyed a kind of natural synergy between The John Bartram Arboretum and students. We are in the formative stages of developing the arboretum and these students are at beginning of their college careers. Their inquisitive enthusiasm and relentless drive to explore and understand the physical world around us makes them ideal partners in helping us develop and refine our detailed plans for assessing and documenting the trees in the arboretum. We plan to continue to cultivate this relationship into the future.”

Written by Nancy Freed