Thursday, December 19, 2013

Kudos to Matthaei-Nichols Caretakers

We hire many students throughout the year to work outside and inside in every department. Caretakers, who generally look after the Arboretum, are the unsung heroes of our student workers. So we're taking this opportunity to give a shout to these incredibly hard-working and dedicated students. Did you know that---

*  Caretakers led 20 volunteer workdays this past fall semester. These were our public eco-restoration workdays held at Matthaei and at the Arb on the second and third Saturday of each month, year-round, plus many special/private workdays.

*  Caretakers worked with 269 volunteers (most of them U-M students) and logged 833 hours!

These numbers are very impressive, and we couldn't welcome so many students and community members to the Arb and Gardens without caretaker leadership. They not only lead these groups but also provide education about our natural areas and the importance of restoration.

In keeping with the Matthaei-Nichols' mission, we hope that this work helps the volunteers to connect with nature on a deeper level and inspires them to participate future stewardship activities.

Thank you, caretakers!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Mentor, Advisor, and Professor: A Student’s Impression of Matthaei-Nichols Director Bob Grese

Guest post by Dan Buckley

I met Bob Grese two years ago while researching master’s programs in landscape architecture (MLA). After a few back-and-forth emails, Professor Grese graciously invited me to his office at Matthaei Botanical Gardens to discuss the MLA program at the University and, of course, to give me a tour of the grounds. I applied to the University’s MLA program a month later with the request that he be my advisor. Since then, Bob—as he prefers to be called—has been my advisor, professor and twice my supervisor during my summer internships at Matthaei-Nichols.

Bob’s passion for nature and the environment shows in every facet of his work—professor, director, and author alike. With a rich portfolio inspired by the works of influential landscape architects such as Jens Jensen and O.C. Simonds, Bob has been exploring the aesthetic potential of ecosystem restoration and management at Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum for over fourteen years. Through the cataloguing and mapping of the various ecosystems and collections at each of the Matthaei-Nichols properties, Bob says he hopes to create research opportunities that will “exemplify the University as a leader in field research and teaching and a model for land stewardship and conservation.”
Bob Grese in the Alex Dow Prairie, Nichols Arboretum. Photo courtesy Dave Brenner.

As the newly appointed Theodore Roosevelt Professor in Ecosystem Management, a five-year appointment awarded to one professor in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment (SNRE), Bob hopes to work with students and faculty to develop a research and management framework for other natural lands at the U-M. His ultimate goal, he observes, “is to enable much more active integration of the University of Michigan’s natural lands for research and teaching, to build effective programs of stewardship, and to engage neighbors and other supporters who currently use these lands.”

Professor Grese’s experience with ecological restoration in the field and the classroom as professor of landscape architecture certainly qualifies him for this professorship. He believes that landscape architects can play a critical role in ecosystem management. “We have the potential to have much impact in how the built landscape relates to broader ecosystem processes and can use creative design to create a much more positive relationship,” he says.

SNRE held an acceptance ceremony on Tuesday, December 3 at the School of Natural Resources. Students, fellow faculty, and many friends attended a presentation on the history of landscape architecture as it pertains to the Midwest region. Professor Grese is very passionate about his work, and it shows in all that he does. I personally look forward to witnessing the progression of his work over the next few years.

Matthaei Botanical Gardens & Nichols Arboretum has just started a program of blog posts created by our student interns, work studies, and Arboretum caretakers. Today's guest post was written by Dan Buckley. Dan is a grad student in MLA – graduation deferred for detached study.