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Arb Notes

What is a Student Naturalist?

Each Friday, a short column titled, “Arb Notes,” can be found on the very last page of the Carletonian. In fact, unless you are reading this off of a computer screen under the Cowling Arboretum section of the Carleton website, you are right now, at this very moment, reading that very section of the Carletonian. In case you didn’t know, your weekly Arb Notes are written by Student Naturalists.

But what exactly is a Student Naturalist? The Student Naturalists are students who work and learn in the Arboretum as a part of the Cole Student Naturalist Program. Students in the program work with each other and experienced naturalists to learn about natural history and environmental interpretation. The Student Naturalist positions are paid campus jobs and the program is funded by an endowment in the honor of Richard S. Cole ’69.

There are several different facets of the Student Naturalist position, each tending to contribute to the learning of both the  naturalist and the larger Carleton and Northfield communities. For example, Student Naturalists lead Arboretum trips and tours for different groups that request them. Additionally, it is the job of each Student Naturalist to work on a project that is useful to both the Arboretum and to the naturalist’s own learning. For example, the Arboretum tree guide used by many visitors of the Arboretum was a Student Naturalist project.

While these portions of the job are fantastic, my favorite part of being a Student Naturalist is the weekly Arboretum walk. Every Friday afternoon, the naturalists come together to explore the Arboretum.  Typically, each walk includes a focus on a particular environmental interpretation skill or aspect of Minnesotan natural history. These walks are open to anyone who would like to join. If you’re interested in coming along, email Nancy Braker ([email protected]), the Arboretum Director, for information on the weekly topic and meeting place.

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