Stop & Smell The Roses – FRCC Westminster’s Library Tree Walk

Thursday, October 12th saw the Fall Tree Walk around FRCC’s Westminster Campus. Led by Kara Lucas, who serves as a public service librarian in the Westminster library, and Heather Yetzbacher a horticulture student and head horticulturist at Kent Denver Private School.

Students were led around the campus and shown varying tree species, such as Ash, Hawthorne, Bristlecone Pine, Kentucky Coffee Tree, Oak, and Plum. They met afterwards in the library for refreshments. The students were briefed on the species of trees, their origins, and their properties. They were also taught some identifications on the varying leafs and fruits on the arboreal. They started from the flagpoles outside of the rotunda, made their way around towards the art building, along the backside of the school where they were met with the twilight, and finally came to rest at the library. 

 Ava and Trinity were some of the participants on the tree walk.

“I like fall and wanted to see all the pretty colors,” said Ava.

Trinity stated, “I just like nature walks in general. I will stop by and admire the trees.” 

When asked what could be improved on the next nature walk, Ava and Trinity had this to say, “They made sure to walk at a pace where everyone could keep up, wait til everyone got there to talk about the trees,”Ava replied. “It’d be fun to see other trees on the campus, we have bushes, in the Spring we have flowers.”

“I honestly wanted to see the frickin, whatever those big leaf bushes were, outside the library. I kept looking at them like, they’re so big and tall and cool!” Trinity added, “I rely on my senses, I would’ve liked more encouragement for touch and smells. You’d get more out of it.”

  FRCC is home to a multitude of species of trees, grasses, flowers, and bushes. On the walk, the students were greeted by the sight of native species such as Curly Dock, and Prairie Sunflowers. 

“I really like trees and really learning things, especially about the school, and I’d been seeing the posters around the school, and I didn’t have anything going on Today,” Cole Beird, another participant said. “I was mostly interested to find out, because, I know that a lot of the trees are planted, so I was like wondering if they planted them specifically ones thay are native so it looked like they just came here naturally, or if they just planted ones that were pretty,  or if they planted ones that were advantageous to being around the school. It was really cool to kinda see all the different trees we have from all the different continents, it’s like a mosh pit.”

“I learned a lot actually about the Kentucky coffee tree, and the bristlecone pine, and the oak tree, I didn’t even know that oak could be crimson all the way through all at once. And also that ash tree was really cool! Every time I’m walking past that tree I’m gonna be like ‘ey, guess what? You see that tree that’s two different colors?’ I like that I can point something out to somebody, I feel more connected to the campus, I’d say,” Beird expounded. The ash tree in which he was referring is behind the school near the loading docks, it is a two colored tree (at the time of writing) in which one side is colored with yellow leaves and the other with reddish purple leaves. The mismatched colors were the result of a grafting of two different trees. When asked what could’ve been improved next time, Beird stated “It could’ve gone on longer, I was having a good time!”

  The nature walk came about when Lucas experienced one on her own.

“I met with Maggie last semester, and I was just really inspired at this tree walk I went on a few years back at CU Boulder. People appreciated [it] but they aren’t really aware of it […nature]. There’s just so much interesting facts to learn in a sense of amazement and that was something I wanted to recreate for the Front Range Community,” Lucas explained. “Horticulture has its own tree walk in the Spring, and it looks like Heather will be available in the spring again. After she graduates we’ll have to find a successor.” 

Lucas explained that the first tree walk was in Spring. She also expressed interest in getting involved with the horticulture club for collaborative opportunities in the future. “It seems to be the beginning of a successful partnership. We’re definitely interested in exploring that,” Lucas said. “It was a lot better attendance in the spring. We have to be strategic about timing, it’s easier in the Fall than in the Spring. The weather was so foul in the Spring, we had to wait until later, but we didn’t realize a lot of the professors gave out exams early so there weren’t as many students on campus.” 

Yetzbacher was questioned on how she obtained her extensive knowledge on horticulture.

“I learned about most of my tree identification here [FRCC], I also learned a lot in my previous job at a tree nursery,” said Yetzbacher. In reference to choosing which trees to highlight for the walk, Yetzbacher replied, “Earlier this week I just walked around campus and saw what trees were peaking in Fall color and what could be interesting to talk about. And then scheduled my map from there.”

In response to the criticism that the walk wasn’t long enough, Yetzbacher replied, “I know some people only have an hour long lunch and some of the staff is here just for an hour then, [we accommodate]. It’s also a lot of walking, so I never know what type of people with limited abilities have on this type of walk, so I wanted to have a little in between. But next year we will definitely go over some more trees if people want to come back and learn more about trees. I’ll also put in some shrubs and other perennials, they’re coming up at that point too.”

Yetzbacher became involved with the tree walk when the previous Director of the Horticulture Department volunteered her for the walk. The director knew her history with the tree nursery and tree identification. The director didn’t have the time and passed it onto Yetzbacher who stated, “I really enjoyed it and I look forward [to] getting it going this semester as well.”

When asked what she would like to improve for next semester’s tree walk, Yetzbacher expressed interest in going off-campus to examine trees nearby in the native area and in the medians near the roads where there are some better looking ash, oak, and crabapple trees.

“I really want to give horticulture students an opportunity to help identify the trees and put their paper knowledge in person. I also want to speak the word of plants to people who aren’t in horticulture and don’t really know much about different trees. We’re so busy in our day to day lives, going to work and coming home and everything. It’s nice to stop and literally smell the roses every once and a while and take a look at what’s growing around us,” Yetzbacher added.

There will be another nature walk in the Spring semester. Keep an eye out for flyers for announcements!

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