Blog Post By Phoebe Masterson-Eckart

Ah, ha, ha, ha, Stayin’ Alive – A Recap of Our Survival Study Team’s Summer

The summer is wrapping up for the survival study interns, so here’s a quick update on our three months of tree-measuring, Casey Trees promoting, park chatting, and dog petting. Our team of interns worked on three projects this summer; a tree health monitoring study on the National Mall, a park perception study in D.C. parks, and a survival study of our trees planted all over the city.

In June, we assessed the health of iconic elm trees on the National Mall as a part of The Nature Conservancy’s study on urban tree health. We measured height and diameter, but we also looked for harder to measure qualities like presence of insects, leaf loss, and unhealthy sap oozing.

While we were on the Mall, a few of our team members reported a dangerously unstable tree to the National Park Service for removal, and some of us reunited a baby duckling with its mother in a whirlwind chase around the WWII memorial.

Our second project of the summer was a park perception study crafted and executed in collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service. Each week, we spent one day in parks all over the city equipped with clip-boards, maps, and an eagerness to talk to as many people and pet as many dogs as possible. We interviewed people about how they use the parks, what they thought of the parks, and specifically what they thought of trees in the parks. Many folks had never even looked at the trees around them until we asked, and we were happy to get them interested.

Our third task this summer, the largest and most imposing one, was the Casey Trees survival study. We biked around the city each day checking up on trees we’ve planted. With trees everywhere from backyards of embassies to front yards of elementary schools to community gardens to homes, we have been pretty much everywhere in the city! We started the summer looking for 51% of the trees that had been planted between 2003-2014, about 8,000 trees! With six interns working 5 days a week in teams of two, that’s about 83 trees per day! Of course, with various trainings, surprise thunderstorms, and our other projects of the summer that daily number fluctuated, we’re about to finish out the summer strong with 97 trees per day.

Survival study days are always eventful, we’ve been chased by mockingbirds, written in a community journal in the congressional cemetery, been on multiple embassy grounds, and have even been recognized by our wonderful Casey Trees volunteers (we are not easy to miss in our neon orange tee shirts!).

Seems like a pretty memorable summer for our Survival Study Team! There is plenty of more fun to be had and knowledge, facts, and stories, to gain by joining in our one of many Fall Inventories or Trees 101 or Trees 201 classes.

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