Forestry students learn to use a versatile tool
Category: academics Video duration: Forestry students learn to use a versatile tool
Students in Carolyn Copenheaver's Forest Ecology and Silvics class are learning how to use a very versatile tool. "One of the skills that I think is really important for them to learn is how to identify plants using a taxonomic key," said Copenheaver. "And then they're able to take that tool, and anywhere they get a job in the world, then they're able to identify the plants that they're working with."
So we're at Heritage Park for just a little bit outside of the Virginia Tech campus. And I'm out here today with my undergraduate forest ecology and civics class. So we have students that are juniors in forestry. And most of the time we've talked about trees. But one of the skills that I think is really important for them to learn is how to identify plants using a taxonomic. Yes. We have a textbook that we get the wal, walk along this path and kinda find native species and try and see if we can identify them. Some of the factors we look at would be how the leaves are oriented going up the stem of the flower. We also have more specifics like the stems have hair, the coloration of the flowers, how many petals are on the flowers? And we can even go into very specific such as a certain hair found on a certain part of the flower. It can be really specific when it comes down to discerning different species. By the time they come to my class, they've already taken a dendrite biology class and their sophomore year where they are and how to identify all the trees and shrubs. So they know that. So I actually use a key on wild flowers because they don't know they're wild flowers. And so I can teach them the concept of how to make decisions using a textbox key to identify plants. And then they're able to take that tool. And anywhere they get a job in the world, then they're able to identify the plants. So it doesn't really matter what you're trying to identify, whether it's like wildlife for trees or flowers. It's the same principles. What I'm getting out of it mainly as I know, way more flowers and I used to like once you've had to look at every individual part of it, how the leaves are shaped, how the petals are shaped, everything you remember it. There'll be turning in a lab report. They have to identify 15 flowers correctly, but then they also have to demonstrate their ability to use to treat. So they have to create a table that shows the different choices they had to make to get to that species identification. This is hard. So I'm happy with them working with each other in the field, with the identification part. They're helping each other, which is part of what scientists do, often work in teams and learning that teamwork skill is a really nice way to bring your labs into what you're gonna be doing in the future.