close print view
Suggested Trees and Forests IPP (for cadets and senior girl scouts)
Michigan sits at the transition zone between two major biomes in North America; the northern hardwood forest and the boreal (conifer) forest. This placement also means that we have a variety of trees and forest types that exist within the boundaries of our state.
This abundance of trees and forest has been significant to humans as long as they have been living in our state. To the first inhabitants trees provided shelter, transportation, and food and their wood was used for the different tools that helped them survive. These forests were also habitat to the many animals on which they depended for food and clothing. As European settlers began to settle our state they used the trees and forest built the wagons, boats and ships that provided transportation, the lumber was also used to build houses, barns and stores, tool handles, tables, chairs and cabinets. Commercial lumber mills helped establish several of the still existing towns in our state including Saginaw, Escanaba, Muskegon and Grayling.
Many thing have changed over this time period, but if you look around you will see that Michigan's trees and forests are still an important part of our life.
As part of the completion of this Interest Patch you will need to keep a journal of your activities: trips, discussions, visits or presentations. Your journal can contain ideas, notes, thoughts drawings, photographs or other items you collected or wrote related to what you have learned as part of this project.
- Michigan has over 1800 different types of native plants. Learn about different classifications of local trees and how to use a dichotomous key to identify trees Then, go on a nature hike and identify ten local trees (5 conifers and 5 deciduous). Make a list of characteristics you can use to tell the trees apart with your troop.
- The rings of a tree can tell you a great deal about their history. Look at a cross-section of a tree. Why do the rings vary in width and shape? Identify its age and describe its history by looking at the rings.
- Animals and plants depend on each other for survival. Learn about the local animals and how they interact with the biotic (living) and abiotic (non-living) features in their habitat. Identify three ways trees and animals depend on each other.
- Before European settlement, nearly all of the state of Michigan was covered by forests. Very little of the original forests still exist today. Research the logging history in your area.
- We use wood products every day. Some types of wood are used for building, others make good tool handles. Learn about the different types of wood and how they are used. Make a table that lists the wood types and their uses.
- We experience changes in tools and technology everyday (computers, cars, etc.). Learn how surveying, logging and maple syrup collecting have changed from their beginning. Compare techniques and tools used today to techniques and tools used 200 years ago.
- Invasive species have changed our forests (chestnut blight, Dutch elm disease, and emerald ash bore). Select a disease or pest and learn about its effects on our forests and what's being done to protect the forests.
- Trees and plants also provide other useful products besides wood. Learn about other uses for trees and plants. Make a list of products (besides wood) that are made from trees and plants.
- Help your community learn about its local trees and forests. Make a brochure listing the different kinds of trees in your area and why they are significant.
- Local nature conservation organizations often need extra help. Volunteer at your local nature center or park. Help prevent the spread of invasive species, plant some trees, or whatever else they may need help with.
- Research forestry concerns in your local area or state. Then, write a letter to your legislative representative about the forestry-related issue. Provide some solutions as to how this problem can be solved. Talk to your troop, combine some of your ideas, write one finalized letter, and send it!
- Girl Scouts can be an important link in tomorrow's conservation efforts. Work with younger girls and teach them about trees and forests. Create a game, organize a hike, or another activity you can think of to keep them interested.
- Invite someone who manages a forest to talk to your troop about their job. What are their specific responsibilities? Find out how to take care of newly planted trees.
- Visit a local tree nursery to learn about careers in landscaping. Find out about the best place to plant different types of seedlings.
- Surf the web and find out what kind of jobs or college courses are offered that have to do with forestry. Which job or class interests you the most and why? Which one interests you the least and why?