Students donate two hickory saplings to Viles Arboretum

AUGUSTA — The Maine Master Naturalist program’s graduating class of 2015 recenlty made a gift of two smooth barked hickory saplings (Carya cordiformis) to the Viles Arboretum.

The program provides comprehensive training to individuals interested in learning about Maine’s natural history that focuses on sharing that knowledge with others in a volunteer capacity. Graduates lead nature walk leaders, give presentations at schools, and provide other instruction for conservation-minded organizations in their home communities, according to a news release from the arboretum.

“This gift of smooth barked hickory saplings makes an exceptional addition to our Nut Collection. Visitors are fascinated with nut trees. Most people aren’t familiar with this species because it grows only in the southwest corner of York County. We are grateful for this gift and the many Capstone projects MMNP students have presented to the Arboretum.” Mark P. DesMeules, executive director of the Viles Arboretum, said in the release.

Over the past several years, three MMNP students in the Augusta area have developed Capstone Projects (an individual project that serves as the culmination of the course) for the arboretum. These projects include a guide to natural history through the seasons, a spring birding checklist complete with a habitat map and detailed descriptions of some of the arboretum’s most colorful early migrants, and a winter twig identification panel with hidden names that allows users to test their identification skills.

The Viles Arboretum, located on 224 acres of fields, forests, wetlands and botanical collections offers an ever-changing selection of programs for the general public and for schools. It focuses on interactive, creative and hands-on teaching with a focus on natural history and unlocking everyone’s natural ability to understand the nature of the world through their own eyes and by using their own intellect.

For information about the Master Naturalist Program, visit Course locations and schedules are posted by February for the following summer.

To learn more about the arboretum and its programs, or how to become more involved, visit its website at, check the Facebook page or stop in or call 626-7989.

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