Canopy Career Chronicles

Introduce your budding tree advocate to new possibilities with these stories about career exploration.

Content Detail

What type of work really excites you? What skills and experiences will you need to get your dream job? With all of the possibilities out there, how can you find the right career?

You may not have considered a tree science career before, and you may be surprised to learn how diverse and interesting this work can be!

Discover what it takes to be a tree scientist

Learn more about each career path with resources and tips for getting started.

  • What you can do if you want to be like Sasha:

    Get your hands dirty:  Start your own garden at home or at school. Don’t have space to plant? Find a neighbor who might need help or a community garden that accepts volunteers.

    Stop to smell the flowers:  The next time you see a beautiful display of plants (in a public garden, for example, or in a street planter), look carefully at the different colors, textures, and sizes of plants the horticulturist used to create the display.

    Additional resources:

    Check out the horticulture resources on the Seed Your Future website.

    Learn about tree diversity and problem-solving with plants at the Gateway to Tree Science exhibit.

    Buy a printed version of Canopy Career Chronicles, featuring Sasha and seven other characters, through the Arboretum Store.

  • What you can do if you want to be like Leo:

    See the connections: Create your own family tree of the plants / pets / animals in and around your house. How might they be related? Why do you think so?

    Capturing your thoughts: Start a journal or a blog to capture your thoughts and observations about the natural world.

    Collective interest:  The next time you’re outside, collect a few [leaves, acorns, flowers, rocks] that catch your eye. What similarities do you see? What type of scientist or expert would you ask if you wanted to find out more?

    Additional resources:

    Listen to a podcast about this career

    Visit the Gateway to Tree Science exhibit to see and explore a massive representation of the oak tree of life.

    Browse some of the publications that Arboretum scientists have written in the last several years.

    Buy a printed version of Canopy Career Chronicles, featuring Leo and seven other characters, through the Arboretum Store.

  • What you can do if you want to be like Dina:

    Get involved: Research volunteer opportunities that interest you and participate however you can.

    Explore careers: Talk to a guidance counselor or adviser about what you’re good at and what you’re interested in doing when you’ve graduated. Or find someone who does a job you’d be interested in doing and contact them to see if they’d be willing to meet and talk about their experiences.

    Observe the world around you: Start noticing the trees and plants you see every day near your house, around your school, or on your way to a friend’s house. Do they look well cared for? What can you do to help?

    Additional resources:

    Listen to a podcast highlighting this career.

    Learn more about the benefits of trees and email or call your local government to explain why you want to see more trees planted in your community.

    Download the Nature Conservancy’s Healthy Trees Healthy Cities app and start monitoring trees in your neighborhood.

    Buy a printed version of Canopy Career Chronicles, featuring Dina and seven other characters, through the Arboretum Store.

  • What you can do if you want to be like Chloe:

    Draw it out: Start a sketchbook and draw some of the everyday things you see. How would you draw something that’s usually invisible (too small to see, for example, or hidden underground)? How would you draw the passage of time?

    Explore your options: Try out different internships or jobs to see what you like (or don’t like) about them. Do you know anyone who really loves their job? Ask them to talk to you about their work and how they got their start.

    Become a blogger: Share your experiences (good and bad) and experiment with different ways of expressing yourself. Feeling shy? Read other people’s blogs and comment when you read something particularly interesting or inspirational.

    Additional resources:

    Listen to a podcast about this career.

    Follow #MeetAScientist on Twitter to hear more about different types of careers in science.

    If you’re in high school, check out research opportunities through Argonne National Labs, MSU High School Honors Science Program, MIT HS Research, Stanford HS Research, Johns Hopkins HS Research, or other similar programs.

    Buy a printed version of Canopy Career Chronicles, featuring Chloe and seven other characters, through the Arboretum Store.

  • What you can do if you want to be like Monica:

    Dig in deeper: If you don’t know the science behind climate change or biodiversity loss, ask your science teacher or a librarian to recommend some good books and articles about the subject.

    Take action: Find a local conservation group and ask them what you can do to help.

    Become an explorer: Visit new places whenever you can. What is different from where you live? What is the same? If you can’t travel right now, learn a new language or explore other cultures by reading or watching videos about life in other countries.

    Additional resources:

    Listen to a podcast highlighting this career.

    Visit the Gateway to Tree Science to see the oak trees from around the world that the Arboretum is collecting to save them from extinction.

    Check out the Arboretum’s Vanishing Acts exhibit, which highlights several endangered trees.

    Buy a printed version of Canopy Career Chronicles, featuring Monica and seven other characters, through the Arboretum Store.

  • What you can do if you want to be like Felix:

    Feed your curiosity: Ask or write down the questions you have about the world around you. Who or what could answer them? Are there ways you can use your own powers of observation to find out more?

    Look at trees differently: The next time you see a tree, think about all of the things that are going on inside of it and around it, things you might not be able to see.

    Tinker with technology: Think about some of the cool new technology you’ve seen recently. Could any of those devices or software help solve a problem that their creators couldn’t have imagined? Can you build the next new thing?

    Additional resources:

    Visit the Gateway to Tree Science and the tree observatory to see some of the tools the Arboretum uses to measure tree physiology and behavior.

    Check out makerspaces in your community. Schools, libraries, and museums are a good place to start; you can also look for them using online directories.

    Buy a printed version of Canopy Career Chronicles, featuring Felix and seven other characters, through the Arboretum Store.

  • What you can do if you want to be like Danny:

    Sort it out: Make a list of all of the things you’d be able to do in your dream job. Then make a list of things you think you want to avoid. How could you find out more about some of the jobs that fit your criteria?

    Seek out sources: The next time you don’t know the answer to a question, think about where you could find the information you need. Would you read a book? Search the internet? Ask a teacher? Run your own experiment? Which one might be the easiest to do? Which might be the most accurate or trustworthy?

    Additional resources:

    Visit the Gateway to Tree Science to see some of the experiments the Arboretum has been working on to improve the health of trees.

    Learn more about arboriculture (the science of caring for trees) by visiting the Tree Care Industry Association or the International Society of Arboriculture websites.

    Buy a printed version of Canopy Career Chronicles, featuring Danny and seven other characters, through the Arboretum Store.

  • What you can do if you want to be like Carmen:

    Keep asking: Curiosity is an essential skill for all kinds of jobs; don’t be afraid to ask questions and keep learning. Not sure you have all of the answers? That’s okay, no one does!
    Combat the invaders: Volunteer with a forest preserve, community group, or public garden to clean up invasive plants.

    Become a storyteller: The world around us has a lot of stories to tell, if we take the time to listen and observe. Think about something (a building, a tree, etc.) that you encounter every day and draw or write a story from its perspective. How has it experienced changes in the environment? What might it be thinking about you?

    Additional resources:

    Visit the Gateway to Tree Science to see some of the experiments the Arboretum’s researchers are working on to understand the effects of climate change.

    Learn to code through organizations like CodeacademyGirls Who Code, or your local public library.

    Check out citizen science projects like iNaturalist or the National Phenology Network.

    Buy a printed version of Canopy Career Chronicles, featuring Carmen and seven other characters, through the Arboretum Store.