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Arboriculture Students Engage in Service Learning

“There are many truths of which the full meaning cannot be realized until personal experience has brought it home.” – John Stuart Mill

Thirteen students in the Arboricultural Practices (FNR 44400) class taught by urban forester Lindsey Purcell participated in a service-learning project last week, pruning trees in the downtown Lafayette area, putting their classwork into practice, while also assisting the local community. The students in the Purdue Department of Forestry and Natural Resources course pruned 40 trees to improve health and structure and reduce infrastructure conflicts, helping to create more sustainable tree plantings downtown.

“Actual real-life experience, taking students out of the classroom into the urban forest is a critical immersion into true urban forestry,” Purcell explained. “Each student commented on how they benefited from the experience, all of which were uniquely different and helpful in learning more about arboriculture.”

Senior forestry students Lina Bernabe and Zach Nemeth said the hands-on experience was beneficial and rewarding.tree pruning demonstration

“It was great to work on the green space in Lafayette,” Bernabe said. “I hope to do it again sometime in the future and further improve my skills in arboriculture.”

“I really appreciated the opportunity to work on career skills in a real-world setting,” Nemeth said. “The fact that it was in a high visibility area of downtown Lafayette made it even more rewarding.”

The students contributed nearly 100 volunteer hours, allowing them to give back to the local community while also learning about urban tree care and gaining increased hands-on learning opportunities in the urban forest.

“I really value university courses that make an effort to integrate with the community,” senior natural resources and environmental science (NRES) major Josie Beach said. “Pruning trees in downtown Lafayette put what we learned in class into practice, while doing something positive for both students and the city.”

The project was coordinated by city forester and former Purdue campus arborist Tim Detzner, who provided additional on-site education alongside Purcell.

“It is wonderful when students and faculty reach out to help Lafayette like this,” Detzner said. “There are more urban forestry needs than we can possibly address on our own. To have a group of enthusiastic students like this come and donate their labor and expertise is incredibly helpful and encouraging!”

This is the sixth year that Purdue urban forestry students have participated in service learning projects in Lafayette.

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