Arboretum Reflection: Workstudy Student, Jason Chan, writes about his experiences here.
Jason checking out some Pear-shaped Puffballs in the Nature Reserve.
I really had no idea what to expect as I strolled through the University of Guelph Arboretum into my position as Arboretum Multimedia Assistant in September. I did not think I would be working here for a full eight months, I did not think I would have learned and explored so many fields and topics, and I definitely did not think I would have had such a unique and unforgettable experience. Here at the Arboretum, I had to opportunity to help with formatting signs, make fun and educational videos on the University of Guelph Arboretum Youtube channel, research and write, and have spontaneous excursions with Chris Earley, the Interpretive Biologist and Education Coordinator here.
I initially thought the Arboretum was just a big garden with trees and recreational hiking trails, but after spending the past school year here, I have realized that nature is so much more than just trees and typical squirrels and robins we see. Nature is everywhere, from the puddles we step in, to the fields of flowers we admire, and to the trees we walk by each day. One of the most amazing experiences I have had here was being able to connect what I learned online, when researching topics for a brochure, to the outdoors, on hikes or fish survey expeditions. One day I am sitting in front of the computer learning about the furcula of springtail, a structure that helps the tiny insect jump and escape from harm, and the next day I would be scooping water from vernal pools with Chris and finding and watching springtails jump. You cannot truly appreciate nature to the full until you know more about it.
This position had much more of an impact than I expected. For instance, I have never enjoyed birds. I just knew that if it had wings and flew, it was a bird. But after making the Introduction to the Feeder Birds video, I could now start to match up colors and patterns to birds, I began to identify them, and I naturally started to marvel at them as i’m walking home or heading to class. I never would have taken the time to search up feeder birds, or caddisflies or goldenrod galls or ephemeral pools, but being told and intrigued by it through the several assignments I had here makes me want to grab my binoculars and see what else I can find, online and outdoors.
I want to thank Shelley Hunt, the director of the Arboretum, for giving me this opportunity to be exposed to so much, and Chris Earley, for his enthusiasm and passion for nature which has most definitely rubbed onto me. This experience has revealed to me one of the great gems here in Guelph; no wonder the Arboretum is called a “National Treasure”.
Written by Jason Chan, Arboretum Workstudy student 2013-2014
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Click here to read more past articles on The Arboretum.