Registered: December 2016
View this Member's Photo Gallery
Throughout my entire life, I have been surrounded by wildlife and nature. My house has a large patch of forest behind it, and I live approximately three minutes from French Creek State Park in Pennsylvania. I decided to work on an Apprentice Ecologist project for the Nicodemus Wilderness Project because I have a deep interest and appreciation for the outdoors, since I have been surrounded by wilderness my whole life. I studied Environmental Science in school for my junior year of high school, and learned a great deal about nature and how it works. This project allows me to help nature and to be in nature while allowing myself an opportunity to potentially help fund my education as I study Wildlife Biology at Keystone College this coming fall.
The project I decided to conduct is located in French Creek State Park, in southeast Pennsylvania. The lake provided an excellent source of information for my project, because of the abundance of different species of trees lining the perimeter. I contacted the Environmental Education Specialist at the park office, and we decided on attempting a new tree identification hike in the park for visitors throughout the year to test their knowledge of trees, or like me, to learn about the different types of trees I see every day. I was given a few tree ID booklets and a GPS system to mark waypoints for each of the different trees I found. After making a rough trail outline and route for the hike, I researched the different types of trees at each waypoint, and recorded their name on site, though some of the trees needed further investigation to name. I collected and recorded nineteen examples of trees for the hike, some being the only specimens in the park of a certain variety. I then marked roughly on a map the route of the hike, and will now wait to return the supplies to the park office in the spring. This hike, in collaboration with the park office, will be named “Treeocaching”. The project is mostly complete, but the final steps will need to be completed in the spring, when the brochures can be printed and handed to hikers.
The area where my project is located is extremely important to maintain and take care of, because it is not only the largest block of contiguous forest between Washington D.C. and New York City, but because I have been going to this park for my entire life. French Creek has forever made an impact on my life, and it is crucial to maintain its beauty for many years to come, and so that many others may enjoy it as I have. The park does a lot for the community in terms of education and helping people of all ages get outdoors. I became a Pennsylvania DCNR Conservation Volunteer this past spring, and I feel that it has helped me a lot in becoming more active outdoors and to help the park which holds this project. This hike will hopefully help the community, by giving people a chance to learn about the outdoors, and maybe some of the things they take for granted, like trees. This hike and education about the trees will allow greater interest in the trees and their names, in hopes of getting more people active outdoors and searching for trees on their own.
My project has helped me in a number of ways. It has allowed me to learn about the different species of trees that I would have otherwise passed right by without knowing. I have always wanted to learn to identify some trees in my area, and this project has allowed me to achieve this goal. Also, this project has helped me because I will be able to touch the minds of hikers and people I do not know, by helping them with the same curiosities that I had. I created this hike, and now people from a wide variety of areas will be able to take this and learn just as I did, and hopefully will gain a better appreciation for the outdoors and the different tree species. I was already planning to study Wildlife Biology at Keystone College after high school, but this project helped solidify those aspirations. I have a more broad background on the environment before I even enter the campus in the fall, which will help me.