I first stepped foot in the Arboretum more than 10 years ago when I arrived on campus as a new student. At the time, I had little inclination this parcel of land and the staff responsible for managing it would define my experience at Carleton. However, my appreciation for the Arboretum and its importance in my life has only grown with the passage of time. I can unequivocally say the Arboretum provided the defining experiences of my time at Carleton.
My time spent wandering the Arb, conducting prescribed burns with Arb crew and learning through the Student Naturalist program re-kindled my enthusiasm for natural history while laying the foundation for me to pursue a career in conservation science. I will be forever grateful for these profession opportunities and the training I received.
On a more personal level, my first couple years at Carleton were a struggle. I often felt out-of-place, isolated and uncertain. During this time, I found refuge in the Arboretum. I found kindred spirits among staff and students. And I found inspiration in the efforts to restore and conserve the enthralling menagerie of birds, plants and other natural wonders I came to know and love. I felt and continue to feel connected.
Bottom line is the Arboretum offers unique opportunities, a tremendous sense of place and, perhaps most importantly, hope for a better tomorrow. Hope for sunshine and warm days after every long and brutal Minnesota winter. Hope for reuniting with friends and family after more than a year of life during a global pandemic. And hope that with some hard work and perseverance, we can begin to heal old wounds and leave the world better than we found it.