On Saturday afternoon,
October 2, 2004, nineteen volunteers in a program called The
Pennypacker Experience, a scholarly and diverse learning community
for first-year students, showed their commitment to the University
and to the concept of service learning by removing nonnative,
invasive plants growing between the hybrid chestnut plantation
and Rocky Top Lane in The Arboretum at Penn State.
Nineteen students from Pennypacker
Hall worked in teams to organize the cutting, hauling, and
stacking of the nonnative shrubs and vines that had formed
an impenetrable thicket between the road and the chestnut
Tim Phelps, the research technologist who maintains the plantation,
organized the students into crews for cutting and stacking the
brush to be hauled to a holding site for chipping and shredding.
He explained that by removing the exotic plants and shrubs in
this area (approximately 50 feet wide by 300 feet long, or 15,000
square feet), the students were taking the first step in creating
a buffer around the hybrid chestnut plantation, and making it
more visible and inviting to those hiking on the adjacent road.
The next stage in restoration will be planting species that are
native to that area, called "the barrens," which will
eventually encompass approximately 29.1 acres in the northwestern
section of the Arboretum.
The brush was stacked along Rocky Top
Lane and hauled by cart to a site nearby where it would
be chipped and shredded later.
Exotic (Nonnative) Species
The species that were removed between Rocky Top Lane and the
chestnut plantation have also become established in many other
locations throughout the Arboretum:
- Bush honeysuckle - Lonicera spp.
- Common buckthorn - Rhamnus cathartica
- Privet - Ligustrum spp.
- Oriental bittersweet - Celastrus orbiculatus
- Multiflora rose - Rosa multiflora
After clearing the brush on either
side of a tangled wire fence, some of the students formed
a crew to remove the fence itself.
Students Find Work Gratifying
Jerilyn Gomez, a program assistant at Pennypacker
Hall, initially proposed that this activity become a service learning
project because she envisions the Arboretum becoming an oasis
of natural beauty and recreational opportunity, as well as an
educational facility, as State College grows inevitably into a
While working at the site, the students clearly
agreed that the project was worth their time and effort. Many
valued the opportunity to be out in the countryside, and felt
great satisfaction in contributing to something that will benefit
the University and nearby communities for years to come.