Home » General » A Word from Our Summer 2018 Intern

Through the Urban Resource Initiative internship, my experience at TreeBaltimore involves updating the “Notable Trees” program and engaging with citizens in celebration of our beloved trees. The StoryMap at TreeBaltimore.org lets visitors explore an interactive map featuring City and MD State Champion Trees, unusual species, historic and memorable trees, and citizens’ favorite trees in Baltimore City. By doing technical work combined with community engagement, my understanding of the importance of trees has grown beyond the biological impact of trees.

My favorite part has been traveling through the city, meeting people who love trees in their community, and learning new reasons why trees are special to them. Assisting with the Notable Tree bus and walking tours has been a great way to share with the community some of the amazing, historical, and unusual specimen trees found in Baltimore. Engaging the community is really something I’ve learned to love, especially when helping residents at Free Tree Giveaway events choose the right tree for their yard.

Participants of the Notable Tree Bus Tour in front of the “Frederick Douglas Elm” on June 30th

Trees play a special role in our communities, and we aim to share a wide range of stories about people connecting to their physical environment. This project is entirely crowdsourced, so your contribution is valued. Submit your favorite tree here. Marti of Marble Hill Historic District submitted her favorite tree known as the “Cummings Elm.” It is named after Harry Sythe Cummings Sr., the first African-American to graduate from University of Maryland School of Law and also Baltimore’s first African-American city councilman. Rumor has it Cummings planted the tree over 125 years ago in his backyard in honor of his son’s 7th birthday. Check out the story on the My Favorite Tree tab of the StoryMap.

The Cummings Elm | Photo: Ted Martello

Last spring, data collection commenced along every row of public street trees, as well as trees in developed parkland within Baltimore City. Data includes tree species, size, health and exact location. Now that data collection is complete, we are in a great position to identify champions. Champion Trees are the largest of their species, determined by the Maryland Big Tree program. Using Urban Forestry’s new city-wide tree inventory data, I was able to select for the largest diameter trees of each species with a computer software program called ArcGIS. We then went out in the field to verify the species and take measurements for submitting the MD Big Tree nomination form for each tree.

The MD Big Tree Program crowns the champions, but anyone can nominate their tree if they believe it to be big enough (more info here). Through this method, we have nominated new champions such as: American Hornbeam, Shingle Oak, Silver Linden, Yellowwood, Zelkova, Yellow Buckeye, Red Maple, Boxelder, and Catalpa, with more to come. As long as a tree scores 60% of the state champion, it can be counted as a city/county champ or at least “notable.” We’re currently setting up some dates with MD Big Tree program coordinators to have them make official measurements. If anyone is interested in this project, please feel free to reach out by sending us an email at myfavoritetree443@gmail.com.

Jordan Nicolette measuring the nominated European Turkey Oak in Riverside Park | Photo: Ted Martello

By Jordan Nicolette, University of Maryland, Urban Resources Initiative Intern, Summer 2018