Junior Arborist Camp

2016 | McCrory Gardens – South Dakota State University

The objective of this project is to create, implement and evaluate an arboriculture summer program focused on students age 8-17. The intent is to create modules that other summer school programs can use as templates for creating their own programs. The summer camp will consist of four days of field and classroom modules designed to acquaint students with the opportunities and careers within the broad field of arboriculture. The curriculum will be prepared with input and direct involvement by University faculty and industry. The program will be taught by University faculty and ISA certified arborists and Board Certified Master Arborists.

The Junior Arborist Program at McCrory Gardens (South Dakota State University) was a 4-day summer camp held in mid-August focused on elementary and secondary students. Created to increase awareness and interest in arboriculture, the camp included eight modules of arboriculture instruction designed to be completed within a 1-3 hour time period and involve classroom presentations, field demonstrations, and hands-on activities. Each module consisted of a list of objectives, content, equipment and supplies including PPE and the skill and knowledge requirements of instructors. These modules, titled “Junior Arborist Activity Guide” can be found on iGrow.org for other schools and programs to create their own program. The modules include: 1) How trees grow and survive 2) The root of the matter: the importance of soil 3) How to identify tree species 4) Tree pruning 5) Tree care operations 6) Tree felling 7) Tree inventories 8) Tree climbing During the camp the students enjoyed the opportunity to learn about how trees grow and develop identification skills, but the highlight was, of course, climbing. This is just the beginning of a long-term effort to expose children to the many opportunities in arboriculture and we plan to continue the program next summer. Christina Lind-Thielke of McCrory Gardens heard wonderful reviews from parents and students. “One student created an Instagram profile for the tree they planted,” said Lind-Thielke. “Another inquired about each career option in arboriculture, and where they could buy the climbing gear. It was such a fun program that I am excited to continue!”

The TREE Fund Education Grant was an incredible asset that made the Junior Arborist program possible at McCrory Gardens. With the many exciting research and educational programs funded through the TREE Fund, we were honored to be selected for this grant. It provided vital funding for advertising to make people aware of the exciting opportunity. The funding was fundamental in providing the resources, supplies and equipment to carry out such a successful program led by ISA certified arborists and an ISA Certified Master Arborist. The grant was instrumental in propelling the program forward with staff and with the public, encouraging excitement, engagement, and interest. It provided resources to purchase critical safety supplies for students that ensured safety during the program while educating the importance of proper safety equipment and practices for arboriculture professionals.