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Fall at Harvard Forest: A Flurry of Visitors

November 14, 2023
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Photo shows 2023 Freshman Seminar students, instructor Dave Orwig, and guest Jackie Matthes atop a Harvard Forest research tower.

Each fall at Harvard Forest, the slowing production of chlorophyll is met with a quickening pace of visitors. While our foliage was a bit less vibrant this year due to weather extremes, the seasonal influx of visitors to the Forest was no match to previous years.

Since the onset of the fall semester, the research and outreach staff at Harvard Forest hosted over 1,000 visitors to our 4,000-acre research site. Students from throughout the University took advantage of the Forest's hands-on facilities: members of Harvard Climate Leaders, undergraduates from OEB, Graduate School of Design students, those from the First-Year Outdoor Program, Freshman Seminar, and over 150 others joined via free bus trips from main campus. Beyond Harvard, other universities continued a long tradition of bringing their students out for experiental learning: Wesleyan, the University of Rhode Island, UMass Amherst, Franklin Pierce University, Mount Holyoke, and UConn students all coalesce as leaves senesce in a flurry of foliage and learning.

Harvard Forest has the good fortune of hosting scientific, conservation, and legislative groups from throughout the region, including a recent retreat of the Biden Administration's Mature and Old Growth core writing group. In early October, over 150 international climate scholars met to discuss Ameriflux research throughout South, Central, and North America.

Connections with visitors expands the perspective of Harvard Forest community members, who bring new knowledge to our next generation of climate change leaders. Harvard Forest's Schoolyard Ecology Program supports regional K-12 teachers with hands-on ecological research, and fall field trips to the Forest build upon schoolyard research to help students conceptualize the importance of their scientific contributions.

Like the forest beings, the Harvard Forest community is exhausted by this final push in energy! But by going beyond ecological inventories, examination of atmosphere exchange, and peer-review processes, we strive to share our research to help guide stewardship of the planet.

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