When he had to develop a senior project to fulfill a requirement for his biology education degree, CU senior William Schlecht of Cache knew he wanted to implement a project that would do more than meet his course requirements. He also wanted to create something that would impact the Cameron community for years to come. With that in mind, he developed the Cameron Tree Tour, which incorporates 18 different species of trees and shrubs, each selected for their ethnobotanical, economic and/or aesthetic value.
"I've had such a good experience at Cameron - a great educational experience, so it's nice to be able to add to that experience for someone else," Schlecht says. "Trees are a great way to introduce people to science. They don‘t run away, they don't bite, and they're easy to find. I hope the campus tree tour will lead other students to the sciences so they can learn from the outstanding faculty members that I have come to know."
The Cameron Tree Tour is a walking tour that provides educational, recreational and physical fitness opportunities while taking advantage of the existing arboretum on the CU campus. In addition to identifying the trees on the tour, Schlecht also developed a brochure that provides basic information on each of the trees, which are designated by numbered plaques that correspond to the accompanying brochure. Tree tour brochures are available in the Department of Biological Sciences in the CU Sciences Complex, the Student Activities Building, One Stop in North Shepler and the Office of Public Affairs, located in Room 150 of the Administration Building.
The tree tour starts with a Maiden Hair tree in front of Shepler Center and follows a route of approximately one mile that concludes with a Redbud on the north side of the Fitness Center. In between, visitors will find the Eastern Red Cedar, Silver Maple, Green Ash, Mimosa, Sweetgum, Cottonwood, Sycamore, Chinkapin Oak, Golden Rain, Red Elm, American Elm, Bald Cypress, Texas Live Oak, Mistletoe, Crabapple and Western Soapberry.
In May 2010, Schlecht will become CU's first recipient of a baccalaureate degree in biology education, a degree program that was approved by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education in 2007. Originally pursuing a degree in history with an eye toward teaching, he changed his major to biology after taking Principles of Biology in Spring 2007. When the biology education program was implemented, it was the ideal program for the aspiring teacher who discovered a passion for biology. He credits Dr. Mike Dunn, associate professor of biological sciences, for igniting that passion.
"After the first week of Principles of Biology, I was hooked," Schlecht says. "Dr. Dunn introduced me to a world that I had always taken for granted, and I found myself fascinated with plant and animal life. I'm looking forward to passing that passion on as a high school teacher."
"I feel very fortunate to have William as our first biology education candidate," says Dr. Dunn. "As one would expect from a new program, we faced a few unforeseen challenges, but William is mature enough and so dedicated to teaching that he saw those potential problems as opportunities to learn. His excitement about teaching biology will make him a great biology teacher. If I was a high school principal in southwest Oklahoma, I would be first in line to talk to him about joining my team."
For more information about the Cameron Tree Tour, go to www.cameron.edu/treetour.
October 9, 2009