Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Woolly Bully and the Hemlock Trees Project Ecologist David Orwig has been all over the news recently.  

David Orwig and Gary Lovett, a scientist from the Cary Institute contributed to new paper dealing with invasive pests and pathogens that was released by  the Science & Policy Exchange recently.  This paper has been getting tremendous media attention.

The following update was put together by Clarisse Hart :

Tuesday, May 10, 2016
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Imported forest pests cause more than $2 billion in damage each year and can be found in all 50 U.S. states. Efforts to prevent new pests must be strengthened if we are to slow the loss of our nation’s trees, says a new study co-authored by Harvard Forest scientists David Orwig and David Foster. The study was led by the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies and coordinated by the Science Policy Exchange, a research consortium based at the Harvard Forest and led by Kathy Fallon Lambert and Marissa Weiss
The study, published today in Ecological Applications, was conducted by a team of 16 scientists - from Harvard Forest, the USDA Forest Service, The Nature Conservancy, Dartmouth College, McGill University, and Michigan State University. It is the most comprehensive synthesis to date on forest pests. It covers both ecological and economic impacts and evaluates a range of policy solutions.
According to the study, 57 imported forest pests live in Massachusetts today. Our region is particularly susceptible to new pests because our forests contain many trees that are closely related to trees in Europe and Asia.
Today, sixty-three percent of U.S. forestland, or 825 million acres, are at risk of increased damage from pests that have already established here. 70% of those forest pests arrived on imported plants. An average of 2 to 3 new pests arrive each year.
Current efforts to prevent new pests are not keeping pace with escalating trade. However, the study reports that current trade policies are projected to return $11 billion in net benefits by 2050. The authors project larger benefits with stronger pest prevention efforts.
(Photo of dead oaks on Martha's Vineyard, due to invasive winter moth caterpillars, by David Foster.)

Listen to this radio interview David Orwig at: 

More articles related to this story:  


WESA – Pittsburgh

E&E News Greenwire


Twitter Highlights: 

From @postgreen:


For more information on the Woolly Bully and the Hemlock Trees Schoolyard Ecology study for students in grades 4-12, go to:

Teachers can register to participate in a workshop to learn how to lead the Woolly Bully citizen science study in their schools at:

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Profile of Excellence in Environmental Education

What does Excellence Look Like? 

Francis Parker Charter School Teacher, Judy Gibson was recognized at the Massachusetts State House this week for Excellence in Environmental Education. 

Judy Gibson is not the kind of person who draws attention to herself in the usual ways. She comes off as quiet and reserved.  She may appear to be sitting back, as she lets others take center stage. Throughout it all, she is carefully observing, listening and researching.  She then takes the information and opportunities she has gathered up, and works step by step at crafting meaningful experiences for her students.  Judy’s students are given the foundation from which they can become citizens who care about our earth and water; Citizens who know about our earth and water from direct experiences in their Middle School years, thanks to one teacher’s thoughtful approach to education.  This is the kind of experience I hope all students can receive in order to best prepare them to make wise choices about our natural resources as they mature into responsible citizens.

Judy has dedicated many years to providing Middle School students opportunities to delve deeply in exploring, researching and touching aquatic and terrestrial natural systems within reach of their school.  Judy is a key part of the middle school science team at Parker. She is one of three teachers, who do a great deal of collaboration in designing the natural science units.  Judy has engaged students in field research projects in their local environment, beginning with vernal pools in walking distance from their school, for well over 7 years.  In 2009, Judy added to the work she set up for her students to include a scientific protocol looking at hydrology of vernal pools in cooperation with  Harvard Forest Ecologist, Betsy Colburn. Judy not only succeeded in getting students to collect pool diameters, and depths, etc. at her own school, but she became a mentor for teachers at a network of other schools involved in this work as well.  Judy regularly presented the innovative curriculum and learning methods she developed at the Parker Charter School with teachers from a wide range of schools at teacher workshops, so that more students could benefit from this work.

Who Eats Who? 

In 2013, Judy led a group of teachers from the Parker Charter School in taking on an investigation of forest dynamics as a team.  She and her 2 colleagues teamed up with more ecologists at Harvard Forest. They led their students in setting up and monitoring a series of forested study plots in their schoolyards.  Their students have collected tree species and diameter data, observed sign of wildlife, invasive species and pests, and many other field site characteristics as part of this study in the past 3 years.  In contributing to this study Judy and her colleagues provide data that can be compared region wide to tell a story of land use change over time.  With this combined information, we can begin to get a better picture of how forests are changing throughout New England.

 Judy’s efforts have led to 20-150 students each year participating in authentic environmental field studies, as well as the broader reach of presenting and sharing materials and data with a network of over 100 teachers.  These students are getting the opportunity to be real scientists and to connect and learn about the water and earth around them.  Judy takes the extra time and effort needed to organize and manage working outdoors both during the school day and in after school group.  It is this kind of in depth dedicated work over the long term that makes Judy’s work stand out.  I am thrilled that she has been honored by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and the Environment for her outstanding work.


To learn more, go to the following links:


See Powerpoint slide presentations that Judy Gibson has shared with Schoolyard Ecology teachers: 

2015.Life in a Wicked Big Puddle-VP.pdf

2015.Starting The Our Changing Forests Projects-Year 1.pdf

.2014.Shepley Hill Vernal Pool.pdf

Find the Parker Charter School location on our interactive map and explore project data:

google.com.Schoolyard maps

More about the Our Changing Forests project:


More about the Vernal Pool project:


More about the Excellence in Environmental Education Awards: