Image of self-guided tour brochure.
The self-guided walking tour developed by McAllister and Groff for the International Oak Society Conference.

New Self-Guided Tour Highlights Iconic Arboretum Oaks

By Mia Groff and Liz McAllister, Learning by Leading ™ Museum Education Student Co-Coordinators

Museum Education Co-Coordinators, Liz McAllister and Mia Groff
Museum Education Co-Coordinators, Liz McAllister and Mia Groff.

Did you know we have an international selection of oaks in the Peter J. Shields Oak Grove? To commemorate the 9th International Oak Society Conference (IOS) last October, we researched and created a new self-guided walking tour highlighting twelve of the more than 100 species, hybrids and varieties of oaks with international origins that comprise the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden’s collection. From acorn to strong-limbed tree, many of these oaks have been in Shields Oak Grove since the 1960s!

When developing the tour, our goal was to give Arboretum and Public Garden visitors an interactive learning experience in Shields Oak Grove by highlighting the fascinating histories of these trees. We began the process of creating the brochure by working with Emily Griswold, director of GATEways horticulture and teaching gardens, to choose twelve trees from our collection to feature in the tour. We then researched the trees’ history and unique characteristics using the Arboretum and Public Garden’s plant record database and the IOS website. From there, we used Geographic Information System (GIS) with consultation from Angelica Sauceda, plant records specialist, to map all twelve trees and create a walking route for the tour that would be easy to navigate for new visitors to Shields Oak Grove. Finally, we collaborated with design interns from the UC Davis Finance, Operations and Administration office to create the physical brochure you’ll find at Shields Oak Grove.

Arboretum visitors using the self-guided tour.
Arboretum visitors take the self-guided tour during Oak Discovery Day on October 21, 2018.

While taking this tour, you are encouraged to experience the majesty of oak trees, some of which include the valley oak, English oak and cork oak! Our research taught us that oaks can come from all over the world, are able to withstand many different climates and showcase an immense diversity of beauty within a single species. In addition to the educational benefits of taking the self-guided tour, we hope you will experience the wellness benefits of spending time under the serene Shields Oak Grove canopy.

You can view the brochure on your mobile device, print it at home, or pick one up in Shields Oak Grove—they are located in a brochure holder attached to the “Test Your Oak Wisdom” interpretive sign (near the public restrooms). If you use the self-guided tour brochure and have any feedback for us, please contact We hope you have fun exploring this unique collection!

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