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Examine the Trees in Your Community Forest

Keywords: urban forestry, community forestry, tree identification, keying, mapping; Lesson Plan Grade Level: twelfth grade; Class Size: 20 students; Total Time Required For Lesson: 3 hours (can be continuous or fragmented); Setting: downtown area, park, arboretum, or large school campus with a minimum of 20 healthy tree species

Goals for the Lesson

  • Students will thoroughly examine 20 selected tree species.
  • Students will properly identify 20 selected tree species.
  • Students will comprehensively distinguish plant characteristics and overall site quality.
  • Students will correctly map out 20 selected tree species.

Materials Needed

  • downtown area, park, arboretum, or large school campus with a minimum of 20 healthy tree species
  • one roll of flagging tape
  • one Sharpie marker for numbering trees 1-20
  • 15 simplified town/area map (plan view) (10 + 5 extra copies for mistakes)
  • 150 double-sided Tree Information Sheets (10 sheets/group + 5 extra copies/group for mistakes)
  • 10 copies of State College Tree Walk pamphlet by the State College Borough
  • 10 copies of the publication Summer Key for Pennsylvania Trees
  • 10 copies of the text Manual of Woody Landscape Plants: Their Identification, Ornamental Characteristics, Culture, Propagation, and Uses by M. A. Dirr
  • 10 copies of the booklet Scouting and Controlling Woody Ornamental Diseases in Landscapes and Nurseries by G. W. Moorman
  • 10 clipboards

State Standards Addressed: E & E Standards: Renewable and Nonrenewable Resources (4.2); Environmental Health (4.3); Integrated Pest Management (4.5); Humans and the Environment (4.8)

Subjects Covered: forestry, plant science, social studies 

Topics: urban and community forestry, landscape management, geography

Preparation

  1. Flag and number 20 different healthy tree species. Trees should be located on public property and within an 8-block area (in this case, historic downtown Lititz).
  2. Make or obtain sufficient copies of clipboards (10), a simplified town map (15), Tree Information Sheets (15 double-sided copies per group; 150 total), State College Tree Walk pamphlet by the State College Borough (10), Summer Key for Pennsylvania Trees publication (10), Scouting and Controlling Woody Ornamental Diseases in Landscapes and Nurseries booklet by G. W. Moorman (10), and Manual of Woody Landscape Plants text by M. A. Dirr (10). These materials should be handed out after the introduction to the activity.

Introduction

"Yesterday we learned about the importance of utilizing trees in urban settings. Today we will take a closer look into the species that comprise our urban landscapes. Today's lesson is entitled 'Examine the Trees in Your Community Forest.' Our objective is to explore a number of existing species of trees in order to learn more about their identity, physical characteristics, and values."

Activity

  1. Divide the students into 10 groups of two. Give each group a clipboard, 15 Tree Information Sheets , a Summer Key for Pennsylvania Trees , a reference text, a town map, and a sample tree walk publication. Instruct the groups that during the next 3 hours they will need to successfully key out the common genus name of each tree using the Summer Key for Pennsylvania Trees and then use the reference text Manual of Woody Landscape Plants to further identify the scientific name, full common name, and physical characteristics of each species. Grades will be based on the completeness of all Tree Information Sheets and accuracy of the town map. Groups will be evenly spaced throughout the 20 flagged trees. All information should be filled out on separate Tree Information Sheets . Bonus points will be given if the group can correctly identify the cultivar utilized.
  2. After the species under study has been identified, the groups will record more information through a combination of field observations and use of reference material. Groups may use the State College Tree Walk pamphlet by the State College Borough and Scouting and Controlling Woody Ornamental Diseases in Landscapes and Nurseries booklet by G. W. Moorman as and additional references.
  3. When the Tree Information Sheet is completed, each group will map out the location of the species on the town map. Locations should approximate the exact location with a + (cross lines) and the corresponding flagging number.
  4. When the groups have finished collecting information, have the groups come together for the last 20 minutes to compare information and ask any questions. Stress that we now know many of the species that make up our urban and community forest. It is vital to know information about the specific tree in order to manage our community forests most effectively. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an effective means of managing damage to our trees from insects, arthropods, vertebrates, and disease organisms (bacteria, viruses, and fungi), but in order to use IPM Steps & Tactics we must first have (1) completed proper identification, and (2) learned pest/host biology. We now have the skills needed to accomplish this.

Assessment

Have each group turn in all materials and handouts. Each group will be graded on the completeness of each Tree Information Sheet (100 points) and the accuracy of their town map (50 points). Bonus points will be awarded if the group has correctly identified the cultivar utilized.

Conclusion

"This concludes today's lesson. Today you have learned about a number of tree species that make up our community forest. This builds upon yesterday's lesson on utilizing trees in urban settings. Tomorrow we will use the information we gathered today to create a walking tour of these very trees."

References

Dirr, M. A. (1990). Manual of Woody Landscape Plants: Their Identification, Ornamental Characteristics, Culture, Propagation, and Uses. 4th edition. Champaign, Ill.: Stipes Publishing Co.

Elmendorf, Bill, Royce Clay, Alan Sam, and the State College Tree Commission in partnership with the Penn State Department of Ecosystem Science and Management. State College Borough: State College Tree Walk.

Moorman, Gary W. (1992). Scouting and Controlling Woody Ornamental Diseases in Landscapes and Nurseries. University Park, Pa.: The Pennsylvania State University.

Smith, Sanford, Paul Brohn, Terry Rader, and James Grippo (2002). Summer Key for Pennsylvania Trees. Updated edition. University Park, Pa.: The Pennsylvania State University.

http://aged.ces.uga.edu/Browseable_Folders/Curriculum/Lesson%20Plans/Urban%20and%20Community%20Forestry-03454/

http://paipm.cas.psu.edu

http://www.lpb.org/programs/forest/lesson2.html

Author

Sian M. Bailey, Lancaster County Career & Technology Center, Brownstown, PA