Middle School students return to woods for tree study

Michael Andreu and Rob Northrop discuss urban forestry Robert Northrop, Michael Andreu, Hillsborough County, extension, extension agent, UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

Michael Andreu

GAINESVILLE, FLA ─ Westwood Middle School will return to woods near their campus next week as part of a tree study they’re doing with University of Florida scientists.

The sixth graders began the second of three studies in the Kids in the Woods program last week.

The study, led by Michael Andreu, an associate professor in the UF/IFAS School of Forest Resources and Conservation, focuses on tree benefits ─ including pollution control and energy savings through shade ─ at the school/Westside Park and in Loblolly Woods Nature Park.

The remaining field days of the study are March 10, 11, 17, and 18, weather permitting. Students will measure trees and collect data.  Their schedule is as follows:

  • March 10th, 9:15-2:35, edge of Westwood Middle School/Westside Park
  • March 11th 9:15-2:35, Loblolly Woods
  • March 17, 9:15-12:05, edge of Westwood Middle School/Westside Park
  • March 18, 9:15-12:05, Loblolly Woods

One of the main objectives of the Kids in the Woods program is for students to become more aware of, and connected to, their environment by participating in outdoor learning experiences. The program also introduces children to science in a way that complements the existing middle school curriculum, said Andreu, an Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty member.

In the tree study, students learn how to identify trees, measure their diameter and estimate their height. They use this information to calculate the benefits of trees on two

1-acre plots – one at the school and one in Loblolly Woods. They then compare the collective benefits provided by the trees on each plot.

In April, students will go back to the woods to study erosion and deposition in Hogtown Creek. Program partners will also organize the second annual “Camp Kids in the Woods,” transforming the school’s grassy field into a campground for the night.

The Kids in the Woods program at Westwood is a partnership between the Westwood Middle School and Camp Crystal Lake; the University of Florida’s School of Forest Resources and Conservation; the U.S. Forest Service; the city of Gainesville Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs and the Alachua County Environmental Protection Department.

To learn more about the Kids in the Woods program at Westwood visit: www.kidsinwoods-interfacesouth.org or www.interfacesouth.org/kids-in-the-woods.

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By Brad Buck, 352-294-3303, bradbuck@ufl.edu

Source: Michael Andreu, 352-846-0355, mandreu@ufl.edu