Talking to Trees: Learning Science Communication at the Arboretum

Talking to Trees: Learning Science Communication at the Arboretum


!New Blogger Alert!
Hi, my name is Christina. Nice to meet you!

I am a Science and Conservation Communication Intern in the Science and Conservation department at The Morton Arboretum. Now say that three times fast.

I have been working with the Arboretum since April and the time has flown. I am truly enjoying my experience here at the Arboretum. Over the past few months, I have completed quite a few projects. But before I get into that, let me tell you about my science communication background.

Four years of my life were dedicated to studying science. In 2015, I graduated with a degree in Biology from Denison University.

Since Denison is a liberal arts college, I also received communication experience. However, I did not yet have that “missing link” that could bring these worlds together. This internship has provided me with invaluable knowledge and practice in building that link to become a science communicator.

What do you do as a science communicator at the Arboretum, Christina? I’m glad you asked!

My center of focus, my world in this internship, my love and my life, has been the ONLY arboretum accreditation program in the world, ArbNet.

For those of you who don’t know, ArbNet is a program (the ONLY program) that accredits arboreta internationally. It is also a website that provides invaluable resources for arboreta (tree-focused gardens) around the world and a database of arboreta (AKA: The Morton Register of Arboreta). ArbNet is not only for tree-focused professionals, it also provides useful information and events for all who enjoy visiting arboreta. So go check it out!

Much of my work with ArbNet consists of research and creating resources that will be useful to arboreta to help them achieve that coveted accreditation. Some of these resources include map making/tree label making comparison guides and a Google map that displays all of ArbNet’s accredited arboreta around the world. I was able to practice my public communication skills by presenting these resources in ArbNet’s July Newsletter and writing the supporting content.

Google map displaying ArbNet's Accredited Arboreta globally with color coordinated tree icons.
Google Map of ArbNet's Accredited Arboreta, separated by accreditation level.

I also work on reviewing and revising the ArbNet website to make it more concise and easy to use. This meant I had to teach myself to use the web design program called Drupal. While the website nearly crashed once or twice, I am now a Drupal expert!

Work space with computer open to ArbNet page and ArbNet audit document.
Documenting changes to be made to the ArbNet website.

It has been a wonderful time working with The Morton Arboretum, accomplishing internship goals, and meeting professional development goals. Here at the Arboretum, I am planting seeds in this remarkable forest of conservation and tree science. I can’t wait to see what the rest of this internship brings.