As a sleep-minded college student, most would not voluntarily get up for an 8 a.m. course. But a class about climbing trees? That might be something students can get up for.
According to the University Bulletin, Horticulture 201 (Applied Arboriculture) is a two-credit class that is an “overview of methods used to diagnose problems and provide for the long term care of large trees.”
But, for students to get up-close and personal with trees, they will need to know how to climb them.
“If you see people up in the trees, it’s probably our class. The different trees are better to learn different techniques,” Teaching Assistant Katie Harper (junior-agriculture science) said. “Let me tell you, it’s a great way to wake up in the morning.”
Current student Angela Hoover said she also enjoys climbing first thing in the morning.
“Everything is much more simple when you’re up in the trees. It makes the rest of the day so much more manageable,” Hoover (junior-biology) said. “The higher you get in the tree, the less anything else matters.”
Hoover said she was set on taking the course after a recommendation from a friend.
“I want to pursue entomological studies. I figure bugs are up in trees, so it’s a good way to expand my studies,” Hoover said. “We’ve got spiders, ants, bees… and that’s just on the boring on-campus trees.”
Instructor Jim Savage said teaching students about his “passion” is rewarding.
Annually, Savage also teaches a weeklong version of the class in the Philadelphia area for anyone who wants to learn a new skill set.
“Jim is super, super personable. He looks out for the students. [He’ll] know what you’re struggling with,” Hoover said.
Although students can expect to gain 50 hours of climbing experience throughout the semester, the course is not lacking in paperwork. In addition to a quiz on tying knots with closed eyes, students also take an involved final at the end of the semester, climbing all through a tree to find and complete each page of the final, Savage said.
Savage said one of the best parts of instructing the class is the end of the year “when you get to that final and put out those papers where [students] couldn’t have gone at the beginning of the semester.”
By the end of the semester, students can climb 55 to 60 feet in the air , he said.
“You can only go as far as you let yourself. It’s kind of a personal breakthrough,” Harper said.
Although Applied Arboriculture is a horticulture course, students of other majors have petitioned to take it for physical education credit . Current majors in the course include biology, food science, biochemistry and molecular biology.
This semester, there are two sections of the class, each scheduled to meet three times a week for just under two hours each. Students only need to bring their own pair of ankle-supportive boots; other equipment is provided.