Fostering the Next Generation of Tree Stewards

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September 20, 2022

More young people are exploring their interest in science and nature thanks to a wide variety of educational programs, resources, and opportunities offered by The Morton Arboretum.

Summer science camps, undergraduate research experiences in tree science, public horticulture internships, learning resources and professional workshops for educators, and the popular podcast Planted: Finding Your Roots in STEM Careers are just some of the many ways the Arboretum is fostering the next generation of tree stewards and STEM leaders.

‘Planted’ Podcast Begins New Season

With the back-to-school season underway, high school students and others interested in STEM education and careers can tune into the third season of the Planted podcast.

It focuses on the fascinating world of tree and plant science careers and features interviews with professionals in fields such as landscape architecture and plant breeding, among others. New episodes will be released weekly on Tuesdays through November 8 on the Planted podcast page.

Each episode comes with supporting educational resources, including lesson plans for high school teachers that align with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), and in some cases Common Core reading and writing standards. Through the lesson plans, students are exposed to horticulture concepts such as propagation, garden design, tree health and monitoring, plant breeding, tissue culturing, and others. 

The Planted podcast also complements other Arboretum resources for engaging the next generation of plant STEM professionals, including Canopy Career Chronicles. This graphic novel series showcases different STEM careers and stories of real-life experts.

A Brief Q and A with the Podcast’s Hosts 

The podcast—hosted by the Arboretum’s Jessica Turner-Skoff, PhD, treeologist and science communication leader, and Meghan Wiesbrock, manager of school and camp programs—began in 2019. They created ‘Planted’ in response to feedback from a high school scholar group they were working with at the Arboretum who said podcasts were their top source of information. 

How have listeners responded to the first two seasons of ‘Planted’?

Turner-Skoff: We’ve had an amazing response from listeners! Episodes from the first two ‘Planted’ seasons were downloaded some 13,000 times across all 50 states and in 68 countries. We’ve had people write to tell us that this podcast has inspired them to change career paths to follow their passion for working with plants. It has been incredible knowing that our podcast is having the impact we hoped.

Wiesbrock: After our first season, the Miami-based nonprofit Dream in Green contacted us about incorporating ‘Planted’ into its curriculum. Dream in Green focuses on integrating environmental literacy in K–12 schools. The program exposes students to STEM careers focused on environmental sustainability. It was so cool for our content and message to reach hundreds of students!

What do you hope listeners will take away from Season 3?

Turner-Skoff: We hope this season of the podcast reaches students or professionals looking for advice or who are curious about what opportunities exist in plant science and horticulture. It’s encouraging that people in these career fields can help us answer and address some of the biggest and most pressing challenges of our time such as biodiversity loss, climate change, and food security.

Wiesbrock: We tried to create a podcast and ask the sort of questions that we would have loved to have answered as we were starting to think about our own careers. It can be so confusing and overwhelming as a kid to think about your future career. We want to simplify and demystify the process, provide hope and confidence, and showcase the amazing opportunities available. 

The podcast is also available on Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher

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