One student’s vision of renovating a section of a historic property to evolve into an outdoor classroom and public space with student and faculty stewardship, has come to fruition. Eliot Nagele (SEBS 2015) undertook an independent study and completed a G. H. Cook Honors thesis on the restoration and prolonged maintenance of the Arbor Trail, located behind the Rutgers University Inn & Conference Center. A network of Rutgers faculty, staff and students has been established, and maintenance and further development of the trail continues under their oversight.
On April 28th, a small gathering at the Arbor Trail celebrated everyone’s hard work and uncovered a new plaque for the trail donated by the Rutgers Naturalist Club.
To support the stewardship of the trail, the Naturalist Club acquired funds from the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences (SEBS) Governing Council in January of 2016, and the Rutgers Alumni Association matched the SEBS funding. A partnership between the Naturalist Club, Alpha Zeta fraternity, Landscape and Environmental Design Club, and the University Inn oversees the revitalization and maintenance of the Arbor Trail.
During the past year, Sanja Martic (SEBS 2017) has continued efforts to care for and improve the Arbor Trail. With the help of Angela Monaghan (SEBS 2016), the Naturalist Club donated funds to make and install a permanent marker at the beginning of the trail and Rutgers Gardens made plant identification tags for the trail. Additional developments include new plantings, installation of deer fencing, and some trail building took place last fall. Student volunteers from Introduction to Environmental Science class and Open Space Planning class cleared up the trail this spring. Others engaged in the project include Students for Environmental Awareness and several volunteers including alumni and current students.
The trail dedication was attended by students, alumni, deans and staff who represent the collection of supporters who have made the trail improvement possible. Nagele, who currently works at the Rutgers Cooperative Extension Water Resources Program and continues to be engaged with the site, was on hand to receive the plaque and cut a ribbon at the head of the trail. Faculty and staff in attendance include Deana Pagnozzi, director of Rutgers University Inn & Conference Center; Richard J. Novak, vice president of continuing studies and distance education; Richard D. Ludescher, dean of academic and student programs, and Jean Marie Hartman, associate professor, Department of Landscape Architecture, who served as Nagele’s faculty advisor.
Hartman, who has worked with Nagele from the start, commented, “This project demonstrates how much can be accomplished with consistent support from student volunteers, faculty and staff.”
A recounting of the history of the trail and Nagele’s undergraduate renovation work can be read here.