By Tom Barry
Head Grounds Manager, Field Care Specialist
Last year we performed an inventory on the larger trees around school, which included identification of the tree species, age class, risk rating and economic value. Until recently, this information was primarily used by the Grounds Department to prioritize tree work and to reduce the risk of falling trees. The inventory, however, has always been seen as an educational opportunity for students to learn about trees and their importance in the landscape.
Throughout the year, students from the Regenerative Landscapes class teamed up with the Grounds and Tech departments to make this information accessible to the community. Since the tree data is collected and posted to a website, we were able to share links to information on each tree by creating individual QR codes, and posting them on each tree in our on-campus arboretum.
The process begins by working with the Tech Department to burn the QR codes onto a tag (made from recycled maple wood) using the school's 3D laser printer. The tag, when scanned by an observer (using a QR code reader app or with the camera on an iPhone), takes the viewer to the website containing all the data collected on that tree.
The process is a little lengthy, and there are more than 300 tags to make, so the project will be a work-in-progress. In the meantime, keep your eye out for areas where the tags have already been posted, and then take a little time to get to know your campus a little better!
The collaboration between departments and place-based learning opportunities that this project has offered the students has been exciting. Also, the future educational opportunities offered by a working arboretum on campus are unlimited. The students have come up with some additional exciting ideas, including signage as well as a wood chip path that delineates a walkway to explore the arboretum. Stay tuned!