The New Hanover County Arboretum – a Horticultural Classroom for Many
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For a few decades now, our little showpiece of a garden in Wilmington on Oleander Drive has served as a horticultural and environmental classroom and laboratory for lots of our local students, young, old and in between. As I write this on a spring day sitting outside by the Arboretum’s koi pond, a group of senior adults from a local independent living facility were guided by a trained Extension Master Gardener on a tour of our grounds. This followed a group of children engaged in healthy outdoor play exhibiting a curiosity about nature. A new class of 46 Master Gardener trainees will finish their coursework next week, with the grounds all around them for hands-on work experience.
In addition, I’m honored to report from some of our neighboring traditional, venerable educational institutions on their usage of our living classroom destination.
Amy Long, of UNC Wilmington reports “Every fall and spring semester my EVSL 195, Intro to Environmental Sciences Lab, students visit the NHC Arboretum to learn about and observe stormwater BMPs. The Arboretum has been welcoming roughly 230 EVS undergrads, from 12 lab sections, each semester, plus the Lab Instructors. Students visit the gardens and use the living classrooms to enrich their classroom learning of water quality issues and solutions to pollution prevention. During this Arboretum visit, students connect all their lessons about water quality, pollution, sustainability, and biodiversity as they tour the grounds.”
Marie Davis, teaching a health and wellness class for UNC Wilmington shares “Gardening for Physical Activity and Wellness is a class in UNCW’s School of Health and Applied Human Sciences that supports and encourages lifetime wellness and movement centered around gardening and farming. Since the Fall of 2020, students from this program have had the opportunity to work on the New Hanover County Arboretum grounds in partnership with the Ability Garden and other North Carolina Cooperative Extension programs. This is one of many sites visited throughout the county, but it’s ideal in nature due to the close proximity to the university and exposure to the numerous educational as well as natural resources on site including the opportunity to observe different changes in vegetation across the seasons. Over the past 3 years, my students have shared that after our class, they come back in their free time- whether it’s to bring friends and family, shop at one of the plant sales, participate in a program, visit for stress relief or even to do some school work in the beauty of the garden.” The class is approximately 22 students/semester.
Ken Wells of Cape Fear Community College (CFCC) writes “The New Hanover County Arboretum is a very valued part of my Horticulture curriculum at CFCC. The Arboretum provides me with an outdoor classroom. I don’t have the room on the North Campus for all the plants that can grow in the Cape Fear region. Additionally, the agents are a valuable resource for my students as many hope to work in the green industry. I hope to continually work with and support the mission of Extension and the arboretum, without their resources there my job would be much more difficult.”
It makes me very proud that we can support all of these educational and inspirational efforts. And if nothing else, visit and enjoy a nice walk in nature for its therapeutic value.