Shelley Hunt

Hello to everyone in the Arboretum community! I am absolutely thrilled and honoured to be a part of The Arboretum team as Director. Having been a faculty member at U of G since 2006, and a student for many (many!) years before that, I am well aware of the iconic role The Arboretum plays on campus. I’ve been increasingly amazed as I learn more and more about the extent of Arboretum activities and outreach involving the broader Guelph community. A little bit about myself...I am a forest ecologist, with a BSc (Environmental Sciences) and a PhD both from U of G. For over a decade I spent a lot of time during the ‘growing season’ conducting research in our province’s north, near the breathtakingly beautiful shores of Lake Superior and Lake Nipigon. I have been studying plant diversity, nutrient cycling and carbon sequestration in conifer plantation forests (mostly jack pine and black spruce), trying to understand how much and in what ways they differ from natural forests in the boreal region. In a way, these forests – composed of large tracts of tree monocultures - are the opposite of what an arboretum represents! However because of the slow growth of trees in the boreal, and the relatively ‘laissez-faire’ approach of the forest industry once the trees are established, the plantations sit on the landscape with no intervention for many decades before being harvested, and thus are able to support a diverse native flora in the understory. I have stayed closer to home since my son arrived nearly three years ago – my latest research interests involve forest restoration in southern Ontario. I also very much enjoy teaching, and will continue to teach undergraduate courses in U of G’s environmental sciences program. I live with my husband and our five year old son in Damascus, Ontario, near the Luther Marsh. We are slowly reforesting parts of our farm property, and also learning to appreciate old hayfields and meadows, especially for bird habitat. One of the perks so far of joining The Arboretum team has been interacting with so many ‘bird people’ and starting to expand my bird identification repertoire beyond ‘cardinal’, ‘blue jay’, and ‘little brown job’! However, the sudden sight of folks in camouflage gear outside my office window (holding zoom lenses, thank goodness) has taken some getting used to! I am looking forward to meeting and interacting with many of you over the coming months. Next time you are out and about in The Arboretum, please drop by my office in the Arboretum Centre and say hello.