The UCF Arboretum, the largest public green space on campus, is an academic and research gem on 82 acres that provides hands-on opportunities for students and visitors to explore and learn about the native plant, animal and insect life of our Central Florida environment. The lush outdoor living laboratory enables students to engage in experience-based learning and educates the community about the importance of green space and gardens in urban settings — the need for which grew during the pandemic.

John Guziejka, UCF Natural Resource Programs Manager, demonstrates dendrochronology, or tree aging*

TD Charitable Foundation recently gave $10,000 to allow the Arboretum to increase their outreach and build stronger ties to the community through family-friendly free Community Day events. The Community Day events offer a more structured way for visitors to get to know the wonders of the Arboretum, including a rotating schedule of learning stations, guided trail walks, and seasonal themed hands-on projects.

The most recent event, held on April 9, attracted several hundred participants throughout the day and included workshops on dendrochronology, or tree-ring dating, provided by the Urban Forestry Team called “How Old is That Tree,” (pictured), a how-to plant propagation session called “Adopt a Prop,” and more. The Arboretum plans to hold another Community Day event in the fall.

“Community day was a resounding success,” says Patrick Bohlen, director, Landscape and Natural Resources and Arboretum. “As the event becomes more established over time, I have no doubt it will grow in future years and will give us even greater reach into the communities. We are so grateful for the support of TD Charitable Foundation in helping us to communicate the value of plants, ecosystems and biodiversity.”

Community participants at the April 9 event included the Florida Native Plant Society and the UCF Alumni Seminole Chapter, and campus participants included Knights for Wildlife Conservation, UCF Botanical Society, UCF Outdoor Adventure, Arboretum Beekeepers, Knight’s Pantry, UCF Collection of Arthropods, UCF Eco-Socialists, Plate’s Fairtrade Capstone.

Jennifer Elliott, program director, Arboretum and Natural Resource Programs, expects the partnerships and collaborations will continue to grow as more agencies turn to UCF for assistance and insight into public horticulture and gardens, urban ecology, natural resource management and human connection to nature. “We are forever grateful for the relationships and partnerships we have built through the years.”

“We know green spaces provide countless social, health and economic benefits, which is why expanding access is so critical to making our communities more vibrant and livable,” says Nick Miceli, regional president for Florida Metro at TD Bank and Board Chair of the TD Charitable Foundation. “The TD Charitable Foundation is proud to support UCF and work with them to increase access to and engagement with our unique and beautiful green spaces for residents of East Orlando.”

TD Charitable Foundation provides support to programs focused on better health, connected communities, financial security and a vibrant planet. Since 2002, they have contributed over $282 million to non-profit institutions, fulfilling a mission to support, respect and improve the quality of life in diverse communities.

*Guziejka is holding a tool called and Increment Borer which is a specialized tool used to extract a section of wood tissue from a living tree with relatively minor injury to the tree. It is being used to demonstrate dendrochronology or tree aging.