Cozza, John .
Outdoor education in a living museum of tropical trees, the John C. Gifford Arboretum.
The John C. Gifford Arboretum, a living collection of tropical and subtropical trees, has been a mainstay of interdisciplinary teaching and community building at University of Miami for over a half century. In 2005, the arboretum was devastated by hurricanes Katrina and Wilma. Although within weeks, we were using the arboretum to teach about tree adaptations to hurricanes, we had lost over half our trees. With the help of a grant from the US Institute for Museum and Library Services, we are renovating the arboretum. We are including many new trees and shrubs from all over the tropics, with multiple uses for teaching. New additions will complement the existing collection, and represent phyolgenetic diversity within key plant families and orders. On a tour of the arbortum, students and community members can see the tree that gives a food higher in saturated fat than bacon, discover why some tropical trees shed their leaves and have green trunks, and learn how flowers and sexual systems attract pollinators and achieve mating. Fruits, fragrant leaves and flowers, and leaf textures appeal to the senses of taste, smell, and touch. We can see trees that yield biofuels, and others that may fight diabetes, obesity, and HIV. Student research using medicinal and bioactive trees is encouraged. Sacred and magical trees, such as those that give shamans their powers, help settle disputes, and house ancestral or evil spirits, are also present. New educational signage will enhance self-guided exploration of the arboretum. Activities like treasure hunts and scavenger hunts work well with younger visitors. Cultural events (such as “Trees of Africa” and poetry readings) reach out to new people and foster interest in tropical trees. The stories and teaching techniques we use are widely adaptable to gardens, parks, natural areas, greenhouses, and diverse audiences anywhere.
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1 - University of Miami, Department of Biology, 1301 Memorial Drive, Coral Gables, Florida, 33124, USA
Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Location: Boulevard A/Hilton
Date: Monday, July 9th, 2007
Time: 11:00 AM