by Ella Groff, Museum Education Co-Coordinator (2017-18), Learning by Leading™ program
Have you ever walked the paths of the UC Davis Arboretum and wondered what it looked like 80 years ago when it was first planted? Have you ever imagined all of the special moments that the plants have witnessed? I have!
The Arboretum is a special place in the Davis community and has a rich history that spans decades. As a student employee at the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden, I was inspired to delve into its history and explore the memories that people have made here. Although the Arboretum is cherished for its amazing plant collections, it is also a place made up of incredible people who have shaped what it has become today.
To share what I have learned, I created two interactive online story maps: the first map allows you to explore the special memories that people have made here, and the second highlights the Arboretum’s rich history as told by some of the people who have seen it grow the most.
To collect memories, I asked UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden staff and Davis community members to share their favorite Arboretum memory with me, as well as a photo from the event or of the place where it happened.
The history map was created based on oral history interviews that I conducted with staff members, including Mary Burke (Director of Conservation and Environmental Leadership), Ellen Zagory (Director of Public Horticulture), and Warren Roberts (Superintendent Emeritus). Each of them has worked at the Arboretum for over 30 years and provide a unique perspective into how the gardens and programs have evolved.
While creating this project, I learned that as much as we derive meaning from the places we go, people also have a huge capacity to shape the landscapes around them. With enough passion and dedication, a group of individuals can inspire others to join in their work and can create something amazing, like the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden.