Eco-Reps organize student-led arboretum walks

Students looking for a break can walk through the Arboretum

The University of Guelph Eco-Reps Program has started an initiative which leads students on Arboretum walks.

Into the woods we go!

A student-run program on campus, the Eco-Reps program is an initiative led by team leaders and Eco Rep Co-oordinators Eve Cooper and Noah Swain. Encouraging first-year students in residence to take an active role in promoting eco-awareness, the Eco-Reps are students who want to get involved in sustainability efforts and have a voice on campus regarding environmental concerns. Organizing campaigns and initiatives to engage their peers, the Eco-Reps’ most recent project has been to start guided tours with students in the University of Guelph’s Arboretum.

“For the students, I would love for the walks to be a method of relaxation,” says Sydney Collins, a first year Environmental Biology student and Eco-Rep as she helps guide one of their practice tours. “I think nature is one of the best ways to do that, to be out here and just reconnect.”

Sydney Collins (facing camera) and students walking along Arboretum trail

With diverse interests and specializations, the Eco-Reps are hoping to get a wide variety of their volunteers to lead the walks and provide their own unique voice to the tour. With the help of Dr. Shelly Hunt, Director of the Arboretum, the Eco-Reps have been learning more about the Arboretum to help guide the tours for students.

“The Eco-Reps have been taught to read tracks, identify trees, and other cool facts about the things to see in the Arboretum,” says Cooper. “They want to led the tours themselves and show others what a cool resource the Arboretum is.”

Some rabbit tracks seen on Arboretum tour!
A gall (circular ball) on Fireweed plant pointed out during tour!

The walks will be held throughout the school year, and the Eco-Reps even hope to organize snow shoeing when there is enough snow on the ground. With nearly 10 km of trail, which provide recreational and functional use for its visitors, the tours will change each time, giving students an opportunity to explore the different areas of the Arboretum.

Valesca de Groot (Eco-Rep) leads tour over board walk in Arboretum!
Cross-country skier passing by while on the tour!

Since the establishment of the Ontario Agricultural College in 1873, there has been a need for a collection of woody plants for specialized teaching and other instructional purposes which the Arboretum has provided. Over the years, the Arboretum has grown in what it offers to both the University of Guelph and its community. With five feature gardens, and pathways through natural forests, fields, and 1, 700 species of trees and shrubs to see, the Arboretum offers lots of things to do and see.

Passionate about their project, the Eco-Reps are excited about the knowledge they have learned, hoping to share this wonderful resource with the rest of University of Guelph students.

“It’s pretty unique to have such a large wooded area in an urban place,” says Collins. “I would love to show students the amazing resource that we have here on campus. There are a lot of neat events that go on here all the time and they do some amazing research.”

Practice tour group poses by Arboretum entrance’s sign

The first guided walk will be happening tomorrow, Wednesday March 9th at 11:30 (am). If you are interested in going, the Eco-Reps will be meeting outside the athletic centre at 11:15. If you have any other questions or concerns, visit their Facebook page called University of Guelph Arboretum Tours. It’s going to be 14 DEGREES so bring appropriate footwear.

With that said, come along to see the Arboretum’s beautiful boardwalk!

Post written by Joanne Pearce


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