LiveGreen: UNMC applying to be ‘Tree Campus USA’ university

picture disc.

picture disc.

Students from the Montessori Parents Co-op for Children work on an art project.

UNMC’s Julie Sommer with students from the Montessori Parents Co-op for Children.

What the heck is a dichotomous key? Why did a bunch of first through sixth graders have them on campus in the rain?

LiveGreen is currently filling out an application to be recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation as a Tree Campus USA university. Universities and colleges must effectively manage campus trees and work to develop connectivity with the community beyond their campus borders. As part of this process, each university must have a service learning project with students.

On Oct. 4, students from the Montessori Parents Co-op for Children visited UNMC for the opportunity to learn about and identify different species of trees. Local arborist Graham Herbst gave some fun facts about trees on campus, fielded questions on trees around the world, and was able to identify the lacewing fly eggs on the back of one leaf. Most importantly, he helped everyone to understand and use a dichotomous key.

Never heard of one? Dichotomous keys are a tool used to identify specific items in the natural world by answering “logical” questions in a progression. The key provides “yes or no” questions and based on your answer you move to another question. This continues until you work your way down to a specific species of tree.

Have a tree that you want to identify? Try the Arbor Day’s Online Dichotomous Key.

After successfully identifying four different trees, the students met at the student plaza. They used various colors of paint to make “thumbprint” leaves on a painting of a tree. The students will hang the painting in their classroom as a reminder of their visit to UNMC and the importance of trees.