Call for Volunteer Bloggers!

Have you visited the Forestry Outreach Center, attended a recent event, or hiked the Pinnacles lately? Do you have a story to share about an experience in the Berea College Forest, past or present? Can you provide insight into the flora, fauna, or history of College Forest lands? If so, we invite you to consider volunteering to contribute to this website as a guest blogger! Submit your post, including a photo or two, if possible, to Ashley Mike at Ashley_mike@berea.edu . We hope to be reading your story on this site very soon!  

by Jay Buckner

Why Are We Building a Bridge?

Chase Denny                                                 

Why do we ever build bridges? Sure, we build bridges to travel over water so we can take our fancy cars from place to place or so we don’t get our feet wet when we need to cross a creek. Although these functions are very helpful, I do not believe these are the most important uses for a bridge. Bridges can be so much more than some concrete or some wood we use so our hiking boots stay dry. Bridges connect places and more importantly, bridges can connect people. They can help establish entire communities from nothing or repair longstanding communities that are on the brink of falling apart. This is why we are building a bridge through our work here at the Forestry Outreach Center (FOC).

When I was growing up in West Virginia, I was very active in the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). I started as young as you were allowed to start and stayed as long as they would let me. Through many camp outs, hikes, car rides to campouts, and community service projects, I noticed that I had made a special connection with my peers, and I couldn’t quite understand how or why that happened. As the years flew by and I grew older and more mature in my scouting experience, I began to realize that this “special connection” was the community I had built through scouting. It was so mesmerizing to me that something like this could happen so fast. Some more time went by and I ultimately earned the rank of Eagle Scout and left my little old troop to come to Berea College. Fortunately for me, I never left what I learned in those many years and the lesson that sticks with me the most is how important a community can be.

When I came to Berea College, I knew I had to find some way to purse my passion for community that I developed through scouting, and what better way to do that than through the same outlet I utilized while I was in scouting: trees. Very recently I was welcomed onto the team at the Forestry Outreach Center, and I was given the option to pick a project I would like to work on this year. I knew this was my opportunity to build a bridge, but I was not sure how to do it. As I was hiking to West Pinnacle on a very sunny day, an idea hit me like the heat had been doing for about a mile. I knew that I could utilize the Boy Scouts of America to help me build a bridge and repair a small Kentucky community that seems to have a deep divide between traditional conservative values and newfangled liberal arts education.

As this blog is being written, the Forestry Outreach Center is in the process of establishing connections with the leadership of the BSA of Kentucky to host a major event for local scouts in Berea, KY and the surrounding communities. Now what is the lesson in all of this? Why did you just read a blog with a misleading title from a college student who you don’t know? My best guess is that you’re interested in construction of bridges in this beautiful forest. If that is the case, rest easy knowing that the only bridges we are building at the moment is one to better this community for years to come. If that lesson isn’t good enough for you then here is another lesson: bridges are much easier to build than engineers think. All you need are some trees, a passion, and a little bit of help from those around you.

If a Tree Falls…

by Trent Powell

“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

Of course! But even if people were around to hear it, they would never be able to understand what the tree was saying. Peter Wohlleben, forester and author of “The Hidden Life of Trees”, discovered that trees, much like many other living organisms, have a way of communicating with one another.

Read more “If a Tree Falls…”

Neuroscience in Nature

Civilization grows at an exponential rate, and our technologies and influence over the Earth is ever evolving. It is astounding how different things were 100, 50, even 25 years ago. One large difference is our shift towards the comforts of living indoors, not just as a country, but as a society. In fact, as of around 2008, the majority of the world’s population (and 54% as of 2014) lived in urban areas. This is the first time in the history of the world that this has happened (UN 2014).

Read more “Neuroscience in Nature”

Breathing Too Loudly

I don’t want anyone to hear me breathe too loudly.

This is the thought that held me back from hiking for so many years. That held me back from doing quite a bit of things, really. It is no secret that walking uphill causes a person to breathe more heavily, but imagine for a moment, that you believe to do so–to breathe heavily–is wrong.

Read more “Breathing Too Loudly”

10 Wonderful Words about Nature and Pictures at the Pinnacles

I am convinced that language is the most fascinating aspect of anthropological study. We can study a culture’s words and oral customs and make inferences about that culture’s historic development and daily rituals. A language (and its numerous dialects) provides insight into what is prominent in the lives of its speakers. Words that describe very specific feelings or images are particularly intriguing; I try to imagine the origins of these words, the people that first spoke them, and what the word looked like when they were adopted.

Read more “10 Wonderful Words about Nature and Pictures at the Pinnacles”

Taking Nature for Granted

I have always been amazed at how we do not know what we are missing until we take the leap of faith and try out new things.

As humans, we always go for the easier route, the comfortable one. We do not like to try things that take us out of our comfort zone, but once we do, we are always left in awe and wonder.

My name is Aloyce Riziki. I was born and raised in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. I am currently a rising junior at Berea College and for the first part of my summer, I am working at the Berea College Forestry Outreach Center.

Read more “Taking Nature for Granted”

Winter Tree Identification

On March 3rd…

we were joined by Dr. Sarah Hall, Chair of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Department at Berea College, for a winter tree identification session–the first of many themed Saturday hikes. An inter-generational crowd gathered in front of the Center anxiously awaiting Dr. Hall to begin. Our slow walk began at the base of the trails where Dr. Hall started by teaching us about shagbark hickory (Carya ovata). Its distinct shaggy, peeling bark is easily recognizable, but comparable to shellbark hickory (Carya laciniosa), where the differences lie in the shape of the nut.

Read more “Winter Tree Identification”

Documentary Dialogues: NERVE

The logo for NERVE

Twenty-five community members gathered at the Berea College Forestry Outreach Center January 18th for the first in a series of Documentary Dialogues, to be held the 3rd Thursday of each month.  Many thanks to Nina Verin, a Friends of the Forest Volunteer who coordinates this event. This month’s offering was NERVE, a film created to highlight the work of the Kentucky Environmental Foundation. The dialogue that followed was led by two of the people featured in the film, Craig Williams and Deborah Payne. We are most grateful for their generosity in spending this time with us. 

Read more “Documentary Dialogues: NERVE”