Most of you like me probably know little about Lovett’s trees, other than we’ve got a lot of them. That is unless you’re a part of Mr. Reynolds’s Botany Class, which extends their learning outside of the classroom when they tour the campus with the goal of finding the biggest tree, as well as many others.
Yesterday, I joined him in the Dell to get a little taste of this experience, and we discussed his passion for trees while surrounded by them.
The “tree tour” tradition started a while ago, Mr. Reynolds told me.. “So inevitably we have a couple of days when it’s just a nice day to go for a walk in the woods,” he said. “And so I came up with this idea years ago with one group of students, not my botany class, but another group. We were looking at different parts of campus and kind of the trees that you see representative of different areas on campus because it varies a lot, like with the river versus all the way in the woods. And we ran across some really big trees.”
But his inspiration for this experience goes beyond a nice walk in the woods, in fact, it goes all the way back into Mr. Reynolds’s days of adventure.
In the past, he has worked for the National Park Service, hiked the Appalachian trail, and gaped at the California Redwoods (apparently these are a must-see). All of these amazing sights have inspired him to give his class just a taste of the awe he felt encountering these natural wonders. After all, Mr. Reynolds excitedly said that the Redwoods are the ones “people drive their cars through. If you see a tree that big, it just changes all perspective. It would be like if you'd never seen a mountain before or if you'd only ever seen, like, Kennesaw Mountain, and then all of a sudden you saw Everest. It's like all of a sudden your eyes are open. It's just awesome because they're so huge and just for something living to be that big I don't know, it'd be like snorkeling next to a blue whale or something. It's just amazing.”
And, we can see a little bit of that magnificence right here on the Lovett Campus. According to Mr. Reynolds, some of the trees here come close to the size of other champion trees throughout the state ( those are the largest tree of their species in the state).
Some of the most impressive trees here are pine trees. “What I love to talk to my students about are the pine trees that are the biggest,” Mr. Reynolds said. “If you compare them to the Georgia biggest pine trees, they're like right up there with them. Some of our largest pine trees on campus are just as old as the biggest pine trees in the state of Georgia, which I think is pretty awesome.”
But the pine trees aren’t the only incredibly impressive and large trees here on the Lovett campus, we also have a variety of hardwood trees.
One of these is a Tulip Poplar which this year measured as the biggest tree on campus. “The diameter of this tree is almost a meter and a half,” Mr. Reynolds said. “That's like 5ft, right. So if you take your average 9th grader and you put them sideways against the tree, that's how big that tree is around.”
He especially enjoys leading his students to this tree, which never fails to amaze them (perhaps because he builds it up so much. “To me, that's the fun part,” he said, “because I want them to walk in the woods and I want them to see something interesting.”
So, if you can’t make it to the redwoods in California or Mt. Everest, you can still find inspiration right here at Lovett. I highly recommend signing up for Mr. Reynolds's botany class. But if you can’t, at least consider visiting some of our very own 150-year-old trees.
“I’d just like the woods to get better use by students so they can see more stuff,” he said. I know I certainly enjoyed venturing outside, breathing in the fresh air, and seeing all those trees.