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Harvard Forest Symposium Abstract 2019

  • Title: Outreach and Education at Harvard Forest
  • Primary Author: Clarisse Hart (Harvard Forest)
  • Additional Authors: David Buckley Borden (Independent); Aaron Ellison (Harvard Forest); David Foster (Harvard Forest); Hannah Robbins (Harvard Forest); Pamela Snow (Harvard Forest); Jonathan Thompson (Harvard Forest); Marissa Weiss (Cornell University)
  • Abstract:

    At Harvard Forest, scientists, educators, communicators, and policy boundary-spanners work collaboratively to share and apply the lessons from LTER science to classrooms; public decision-making; and land-based practice including conservation, forestry, and regional planning.

    In 2018, HFR education staff, PIs, and graduate students led more than 80 guided tours of LTER research sites for over 1,500 university and K-12 students, policy leaders, journalists, filmmakers, and regional to international conservation/forestry professionals. Courses and academic programs hosted in 2018-2019 at HFR included a Harvard Freshman Seminar: “Research at the Harvard Forest: Global Change Ecology--Forests, Ecosystem Function, the Future,” a Harvard pre-Orientation program, and a series of winter and spring internships. These field-oriented programs center on instruction from a range of HFR Co-Is.

    HFR educators strive to incorporate HFR data into K-12 learning through the Schoolyard Ecology Program. In 2018, HFR’s graduate student Fiona Jevon worked with co-I Bill Munger to publish a “data nugget” teaching tool based on one of HFR’s longest LTER datasets. In addition, a new land-cover change GIS map series, designed to make LTER research on climate and land management relevant in students’ own communities, was created by the Thompson Lab for schools participating in the sLTER “Changing Forests” project.

    Film crews were a common sight at HFR in 2018, with final products including: 1) a documentary about New England’s old-growth forests, featuring multiple HFR Co-Is, 2) a student-led documentary about HFR’s Hemlock Hospice art-science collaboration, 3) a new online graduate course called “Poetry in America for Teachers: Earth, Sea, Sky,” created by an NPR-syndicated program, with extended interviews of 2 HFR co-Is giving ecological perspectives on nature-themed poems; and 4) a new episode of the YouTube series “Science in Real Life,” featuring LTER graduate student Jess Gersony. A new Fisher Museum exhibit based on work by co-I Crystal Schaaf and graduate student Peter Boucher brings the museum’s historical landscape dioramas into the modern day through an interactive, Lidar-based visualization of a long-term research plot.

    The “Hemlock Hospice” art-science collaboration by artist/designer David Buckley Borden and co-I Aaron Ellison attracted thousands of student and public visitors to an 18-piece sculpture exhibit along a 2-mile loop in the declining Hemlock Woodlot. The exhibit was featured widely in 2018 in both science and art media, including features in the Boston Globe, Living on Earth, and Orion; and the team gave dozens of talks at galleries, classrooms, museums, and conferences. A new public art sculpture by Buckley Borden and Ellison was installed in Harvard University’s Science Center Plaza in October 2018. Called “Warming Warning,” the 5-ton exhibit visualizes global temperature trends and seeks to spur local action, and is now installed at the Harvard Farm in Petersham.

    HFR co-Is led more than a dozen education and outreach activities at the 2018 LTER All Scientists’ Meeting, including several posters and sessions focused on site work and network models for cultivating diversity & inclusion, communication, data literacy, art, and a cross-site REU initiative.

    The New England Landscape Futures web tool, based on LTER V research and leveraging support from NSF RCN and AISL grants, brings maps of future land-use change scenarios to conservation professionals across New England. The tool visualizes at high resolution 4 scenarios for future land development, conservation, agriculture, and timber harvest. Beta testing and workshops engaged hundreds of stakeholders in reviewing and improving the tool throughout 2018; a new version is now available at

    The Wildlands and Woodlands conservation initiative leverages foundation funding and engages Co-Is in collaborative work with hundreds of organizations, universities, and agencies in New England to provide science-based tools and policy and funding analyses to accelerate the pace of land conservation in the region. In addition to creating events, websites, publications, videos, podcasts, social media, and other outreach tools, co-Is have helped build a growing network called Academics for Land Protection in New England (ALPINE) that seeks to connect university communities and their resources (subject experts, research-based tools, trained interns) with local conservation organizations to make a real impact on the land.

  • Research Category: Conservation and Management; Ecological Informatics and Modelling; Group Projects; Regional Studies