Hug a tree and plant one, too! It’s Arbor Day — a global holiday where communities are encouraged to plant trees — on the last Friday of April. The holiday originated in a village in Spain, Mondonedo, in 1594 and first was celebrated in America on April 10, 1872 in Nebraska. The commemorative day promotes tree planting as well as environmental awareness and responsibility.
Dr. Murray, the T. Elliot Weier Professor of Plant Science, has broad interests in community ecology and evolutionary biology, especially as they pertain to plant and animal interactions. He and colleague Dr. Kathy Winnett-Murray, professor of biology, have also been tracking the ecological shifts in a West Michigan hemlock forest that is undergoing a potentially devastating insect infestation.
Dr. Li, associate professor of biology, uses data from anatomy, chemistry and molecular biology to study plant groups such as conifers, maples, lilacs and privets, and witch-hazels. He has written about The Tree of Life: China Project, for the Journal of Systematics and Evolution, a project that investigates the evolutionary biology of vascular plants in China. Li is also especially well-versed in Northern Hemisphere plant life, having served as a senior research scientist at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University for 10 years before coming to Hope.
On Monday, January 21, it’s National Squirrel Appreciation Day. (Yes, it does seem there is, in fact, a national day for everything. But who can begrudge squirrels their very own day?)
Hope College has one faculty member and one staff member who know quite a bit about squirrels since the little critters are the college’s unofficial mascot due to their numerous, lively and beloved presence on campus.
Dr. Kathy Winnett-Murray, professor of biology, has conducted several squirrel investigations as part of her Animal Behavior classes through the years. She’s able to set the record straight about the many myths surrounding black-coated squirrels. They are not a separate species, they did not arrive in Holland, Michigan, as the results of a wrecked circus train long ago, and their “aggressive” behaviors are the same as other squirrels. As a service to all squirrels everywhere, she can debunk misconceptions, relate some amazing foraging decisions squirrels make, as well as address squirrel genetic research regarding coat colors.
Greg Olgers, long-time director of news media services for the Public Affairs and Marketing Office, is also somewhat of a squirrel aficionado. His research and writing about the “culture” of squirrels at Hope, in Holland and even nationwide for a News from Hope College story in 2016 meant he was digging into multiple sources for nuggets of wisdom about the creature. He can address how Holland and other U.S. cities actively built their squirrel populations in city parks at the turn of the 20th century.