Restoring native flora to the natural areas in the Arboretum will create many opportunities to show the value of biodiversity.


Source: Michael Hassler
Quercus ilicifolia (scrub oak) is one of the native shrubs that will be replanted in the area cleared by the volunteers.



Source: Michael Hassler
Rhus glabra is another native plant that will be restored to the barrens' habitat.

Student Volunteers from Pennypacker Hall
Begin Woodland Restoration Effort

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 plantation.

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 city.

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.



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