Interactive Arboretum Map is Now Live!

Tracy Mehlin, information technology librarian for the Elisabeth C. Miller Library, passed along the exciting news that the new Washington Park Arboretum Interactive Map has officially launched!

The project started in August 2012 with a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to survey the Arboretum and digitize paper inventory maps. Now, the online, interactive map identifies landmarks, trails, gardens and every woody plant growing in the Arboretum. It can be browsed or searched, and users can turn layers on and off, measure distances, draw a custom route and print out a custom map.

It’s an incredibly comprehensive resource, with applications for everyone from faculty and students to visitors and researchers around the world, so get in there and start exploring!

Arboretum Interactive Map

Director’s Message: Summer 2014

As I’m writing this message, I’m looking out my office windows at another brilliant summer afternoon. This time of year in the Seattle and the Pacific Northwest—clear skies, mountains on every horizon, sails carving up every lake and channel—is especially distracting, and we’re lucky that Summer Quarter is our quietest. Half of every class would be dreamily gazing outside and clamoring for an escape.

Tom DeLuca

Director Tom DeLuca on a recent backpacking trip with his sons in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

It often feels like a reflex or instinct, this yearning to be outdoors, reveling in the infinite variety and beauty of nature. But I have to remind myself that I grew up in a family that had me out skiing all winter, and on extended backpack trips in Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and Northern Michigan in the summer. We spent countless hours building fence lines, cutting firewood and enjoying every autumn and spring on land we owned and managed in western Wisconsin, or simply playing in the woods by our house on a daily basis.

Not everyone has that same access to parks, open lands or wilderness, or the same opportunities to take advantage of them. Similar to developing a taste for unique foods, our understanding and appreciation of the ‘outdoors’ often starts with exposure to nature on a regular basis, ideally starting at a young age. Without a daily diet of nature, many people never develop an overarching respect for the natural world, and the immense value of its resources. There’s nothing automatic or universal about developing that respect. It’s often the result of years of experience and exploration, honed throughout our lives like so many of our philosophies and passions.

That’s why our role at SEFS is so important. We invest a significant portion of our effort toward instilling our students with a deep sense of respect and value for natural and semi-natural places, with a special emphasis on forests. Our hope is that our students leave here with a sturdy land and conservation ethic, derived from a scientific understanding of how ecosystems function, and how we might best manage lands for the enduring integrity and benefit of humans and all living species alike.

However, as I’ve learned, the taste for nature is best developed young, so we’ve recently launched a number of programs with the goal of capturing the imaginations of young minds much earlier.

Mount Rainier Institute

After a day of field experiments, students relax around a campfire during one of the first pilots of the Mount Rainier Institute.

This past October, we successfully completed the first pilots of the Mount Rainier Institute (MRI), and this fall we’ll be welcoming the first full season of students. A partnership between Mount Rainier National Park and SEFS, MRI is a residential environmental learning center designed to nurture the next generation of environmental stewards and leaders. The program invites middle school students from all backgrounds—and especially from diverse communities with limited access to parks and other natural spaces—to spend four days and three nights at Pack Forest and Mount Rainier National Park. They learn science by doing science, testing skills like observation, inquiry, analysis, supporting claims with evidence, and presenting their findings. Through these hands-on experiments, along with other fun activities like night hikes and campfires, they build confidence in being outdoors and, we hope, form the beginnings of their own land ethic.

Around the same time last year, we also kicked off a program at the UW Botanic Gardens that targets an even younger audience. The Fiddleheads Forest School immerses preschool-aged children in the natural world, introducing them to their relationships with trees, herbs, insects and mammals. It’s casual and playful, and these young students get to spend time in the beautiful outdoors classroom of the Washington Park Arboretum—an easy place to begin a lifelong love of nature.

Programs like these have me brimming with enthusiasm and confidence in the next generation of environmental leaders and resource managers. Because even if we can’t all grow up with regular access and exposure to nature, we can all grow into responsible stewards and ensure the long-term preservation of the landscapes we value so much.

Tom DeLuca
Director, School of Environmental and Forest Sciences

Photo of Tom DeLuca © Tom DeLuca; photo of Mount Rainier Institute © Kevin Bacher/NPS.

Campus Project: Help Restore the Kincaid Ravine Forest!

Our friends at the UW Chapter of the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER-UW) and EarthCorps passed along word of a few volunteer work parties coming up to help restore Kincaid Ravine to a healthy and beautiful campus forest!

A 2.2-acre urban forest located in the northeast corner of campus, Kincaid Ravine is currently dominated by invasive species and deciduous trees that are coming to the end of their natural lifespan. It is a declining forest that is gradually losing the ability to perform important ecological functions.

Restoration EventsAs part of the process of restoring this forest to health, the first event of the quarter—organized by SER-UW—will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 15, along the Burke-Gilman Trail under the 45th Street Viaduct. You’ve probably walked or cycled through there countless times, and now you have a chance to get involved and remove some invasive plants. Tools, gloves and refreshments will be provided, so all you have to do is show up ready to dig in!

After this kick-off work party, EarthCorps has partnered with the UW Campus Sustainability Fund to line up five additional opportunities at Kincaid Ravine for the winter and spring quarters. Among the other key partners in this effort are Martha Moritz, a graduate student in Environmental Horticulture who is serving as the student project manager, and SEFS Professors Kern Ewing and Jim Fridley (as well as administrative support from UW Botanic Gardens).

As before, tools, gloves and refreshments will be provided for each event, but EarthCorps asks that you sign up beforehand if you’re able to come.

Saturday, Feb. 22: EarthCorps work party from 10 a.m-2 p.m. Invasive plant removal. Sign up now!

Saturday, March 1: EarthCorps work party from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Planting and mulching. Sign up now!

Thursday, March 6: EarthCorps work party from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Invasive plant removal. Sign up now!

Saturday, March 15: EarthCorps work party from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. This will be the last work party in winter quarter. You’ll be doing a lot of planting and mulching. Sign up now!

Saturday, April 19: EarthCorps Earth Day work party from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. to kick off spring quarter. Sign up now!

Learn more about the Kincaid Ravine restoration project, and please contact Yiyan Ge, volunteer coordinator, or Martha Moritz, student project manager, with any other questions.

Wanted: Garden Guides for the Arboretum!

This winter and spring, the Washington Park Arboretum is looking for volunteer “Garden Guides” to lead hands-on, science-based fieldtrips for school groups of kindergarteners through 6th graders!

Garden GuidesHosted by the UW Botanic Gardens, the programs are 90 minutes long and take place during two different timeslots, 10 a.m. or 12 p.m., Monday through Friday. They’re recruiting volunteers of all ages, and working as a Garden Guide is an especially great way for students to share their knowledge and love of nature with the next generation of environmental stewards—all while strolling through the Arboretum!

If you’re interested in signing up, Garden Guides receive a free training series to lead tours on topics such as botany, ecology and interpretation. Guides are asked to work one two-hour shift per week, and new guides shadow experienced guides to learn the programs until they’re confident and comfortable enough to lead tours themselves.

The Garden Guides program runs from now through June 15. To learn more or sign up, contact Lisa Sanphillippo at uwbgeduc@uw.edu or 206.543.8801!

Photo © UWBG.

Meet Wendy Star, the New SEFS Administrator!

With students flooding in and out of classes every day, and researchers cycling in for various projects and seminars, we’re accustomed to seeing unfamiliar faces around the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences (SEFS). But thanks to a handful of hires in the past month, a few of those new faces will soon be regular fixtures in our halls and memories!

One of the newest additions is Wendy Star, who started as SEFS administrator on Monday, November 25. While Star is new to SEFS, she’s been connected to the University of Washington for much of her life, from when she studied business at UW as an undergrad, to her most recent position as administrator for the Department of Sociology.

There’s so much more to her story, of course, and we sat down with Star at the end of her second week to learn a little more and help introduce her to the SEFS community.

Wendy Star

For Wendy Star, UW is a family affair, as both of her daughters also work for the university!

Seattle Roots
Star was born in Wisconsin, but her family moved to Seattle when she was still a baby. Her grandparents had a home in Ballard, and Star grew up playing around the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, and spending hours exploring the Washington Park Arboretum. “We have lots of pictures of this skinny little kid running around outside,” she says.

These days, though, the tables have turned, and now Star’s shelves and walls are filled with photos of her two young granddaughters. Both of her daughters live in Seattle and work for UW: Jennifer as the curriculum coordinator for the university, and JoAnn as a nurse in labor and delivery at the UW Medical Center. They each have a daughter, and Star says her free time generally revolves around what her granddaughters want to do.

They both started Girl Scouts this year, and Star says she especially loves taking them out on local adventures. “When the weather is nice, we’ll go out in nature and explore,” she says. “One of our favorite things to do is take trips over to Sequim and visit the Olympic Game Farm. You drive through in your car, and you get to see all these animals, buffalo and elk and llamas and yaks, and they come right up to you.”

Book It
Next to the grandkids, one of the easiest ways to get Star gushing is to ask her about what she’s reading. Most mornings, she carpools to campus from Everett with her daughter Jennifer, and then she takes the bus home. That gives her plenty of time to devour all sorts of nonfiction.

She recently finished Last Child in the Woods, which addresses some of the nature deficit many kids are experiencing today, when it’s harder to find open spaces to play outdoors. She doesn’t necessarily recommend that one, but she loved the book before it, The Girl With No Name, by Marina Chapman.

It’s about a 6-year-old girl who grew up in Colombia and was kidnapped. Her abductors ended up leaving her alone into the jungle, where she miraculously survived, in part through the company and protection of monkeys. She’s now grown and has her own daughters, who helped her tell her incredible story. “I couldn’t put it down,” says Star. “It was so fascinating.”

First Impressions
Part of the appeal of the administrator position for Star was the connection to her childhood, and those early days trekking through the Arboretum. She grew up loving these parks and facilities, and now she gets to work on behalf on them.

“I’m excited to learn more about the research our faculty do,” she says, “and to learn about Pack Forest and ONRC and the Botanic Gardens all the centers that are part of SEFS.”

It’s a daunting learning curve, she says, but her first two weeks have been fun, and she’s felt very welcome and at ease. As she familiarizes herself with all the new people and programs in the SEFS community, the hardest part actually might be reminding herself she can’t learn everything overnight—and that all the new science and professors and students are precisely what make the job so exciting. “I’m so tickled to be a part of it!”

You can find Star in Anderson 107D, so feel free to stop by or shoot her an email to introduce yourself!

Photo © SEFS.

No Fiddling Around!

Fiddleheads Forest School

Kit Harrington reads a book about emotions during story time.

In case you missed the fun news a couple weeks ago, the UW Botanic Gardens recently welcomed the inaugural class of the Fiddleheads Forest School!

The Fiddleheads program is designed to immerse preschool-aged children in the natural world and develop deeper connections to their environment. Using the outdoors classroom of the Washington Park Arboretum, UWBG’s Sarah Heller and Kit Harrington are focusing on the complete development of their students—mental, emotional, physical and social. They’re now a couple weeks into the program with their first of 24 families, and we can’t wait to see these young nature lovers grow up to be SEFS students down the road!

Check out the full story from Patrick Mulligan, continuing education coordinator at the Arboretum!

Photo © UWBG.