September 7, 2011
Adopt a Tree
New York State is home to hundreds of species of trees, and each one tells a different story. Their leaves and bark are different from other trees. They grow to different heights and sizes. Different animals prefer different types of trees. Pick a tree in your yard or park, and "adopt" it for a year. This will mean keeping close watch over your tree during each of the four seasons and recording any changes to it. If you don't know what kind of tree you have, use the online tree identification guide on the Arbor Day website.
Do some research about your tree (using the Internet or library), and write the information in a special notebook or on this Adopt a Tree worksheet (pdf):
-Where does it grow?
-How long does the tree usually live?
-How tall does it get?
-Are there specific animals that prefer your tree?
Now that you know the basics, head outside and start getting to know your tree.
-Shape of a tree: Draw a picture of the tree, and photograph it if you have a camera.
-Bark: Hold a sheet of paper against the bark, and rub the side of a crayon on the paper until a pattern emerges.
-Leaves: Pick leaves in the spring, summer and fall, and press and tape them into your book.
-Twigs: How are the twigs on each branch aligned? Are they across from each other, or do they alternate?
-Flowers and seeds: Does your tree have showy flowers or flowers for which you have to look closely to find? As the growing season progresses, watch at the flower sites for seeds to form. Are the seeds inside a "package," such as a fruit, cone or nutshell?
-Animal and plant life: Look for birds, insects, squirrels, fungus, moss or human activity on, in or around your tree.
-Environment: What does the tree need to survive? Is it in the shade or the sun? What other plants are nearby?
-Condition: Is it healthy; is there any evidence of injury or decay?
-Measurement: Measure the circumference, and estimate the height of the tree.
Visit your tree every season, and record the changes. Review each of the above categories to see whether anything is different from one season to the next.
We must protect trees from disease and insects like the Asian long-horned beetle and the emerald ash borer. These insects kill specific types of trees, such as maple and ash, and can be easily spread by people moving firewood from one location to another. So when planning your next camping trip, remember, DON'T MOVE FIREWOOD; buy your firewood when you get there! Please call 1-866-640-0652 for more information.
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Learn the best places to view wildlife at DEC's Watchable Wildlife pages.
That Makes Scents
All leaves have a distinctive scent-even tree leaves. Pick a leaf from your tree, and crush it with your hand. What does it smell like? Try this with some other trees and plants in your yard or park (except poisonous ones of course!). Do they smell different? Have someone crush leaves from different trees and let you try to guess which leaf belongs to which tree.
How do scientists identify and categorize trees? They may look at leaves from a number of trees and sort them into types. One group of trees may contain leaves with toothed edges, while the other group has leaves with smooth edges. Scientists divide these two groups into smaller groups based on another characteristic and so on, until there is only one leaf left in each group. Scientists record the characteristics for each group to create an identification key.
Try creating your own identification key using your family and friends. Start by separating males and females, then move on to straight hair and curly hair, hair color, eye color and so on. Keep going until there is only one person in each category. If you create an identification guide and give it to someone who doesn't know anyone in the group, they should be able to name people based on the characteristics that you listed.
Read Conservationist for Kids for more information and activities!
Upcoming DEC Events
Norrie Point Environmental Center
Norrie Point Open House: Science on the River
Saturday, September 17 from 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM
Five Rivers Environmental Education Center
Predators of the Night
Friday, September 9 at 7:00 PM
Family Fun: Sensational Observations
Saturday, September 10 at 10:00 AM
Parent(s) and child(ren) must accompany each other. Call 518-475-0291 to register by Wednesday, September 7.
Watchable Wildlife: Turtles
Saturday, September 10 at 2:00 PM
Annual Fall Festival
Saturday, September 17 from 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Join us for a family-oriented environmental celebration featuring hands-on educational activities, interactive exhibits, interpretive walks and more.
History Happened Here: CCC Camp S-72
Saturday, September 24 at 2:00 PM
Seeds: Nature's Bounty
Saturday, September 10 from 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Call 518-456-0655 to register. Cost: $2.00/person, $5.00/family, children under 5 free.
Western New York
Advance registration is required. Call 716-683-5959.
Thursday, September 8 and 15 at 4:30 PM
For children in grades K-5. No registration required.
Wildlife in Disguise
Saturday, September 10 at 10:30 AM
Full Harvest Moon Walk
Monday, September 12 at 7:30 PM
11th Annual Fall Festival
Saturday, September 17 from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Enjoy crafts for kids, live animals, guided nature walks, hands-on activities, food and more. No registration required for this event.