Pine Hollow Arboretum offers tours

Pine Hollow Arboretum, a not-for-profit nature preserve in Slingerlands, is hosting hundreds of students from 10 area schools for a series of educational field trips this month and next. The instruction and transportation costs are subsidized by Pine Hollow as a community service.

Elementary school students in first through fifth grades have been learning about plants and the environment in Pine Hollow, surrounded by the arboretum’s collection of more than 3,000 trees and ornamental shrubs from around the world along with wild animals and birds.

During their guided tour, the students visit three stations. At their first stop, they learn about seeds, what trees need to survive, and how to plant a tree. At the next station, they visit some of the arboretum’s many ponds, and meet live snapping and painted turtles.

The students then go on a hike on two of the Arboretum’s scenic trails, the Fir Trail and the Silverbell Trail. The hikes are led by student volunteers from Bethlehem Central High School who have completed at least eight hours of training in environmental science and outdoor teaching techniques at the arboretum.

Pine Hollow Arboretum is home to many spectacular trees. Most of the students are in awe of the giant Metasequoia, or Dawn Redwood, that towers high over their heads. They encounter trees from China, Japan, and Europe, as well as specimens from many parts of the United States. After learning how the Alaskan Cedar is adapted to heavy snow, they travel only a few yards to admire magnolias in full blossom, a species usually found in the Southern United States.

Students view plantings of rhododendrons and lily-of-the-valley, and then study a dead tree for signs of woodpecker feeding in order to learn about the interrelationships of trees and wildlife.

Pine Hollow’s collection of unique trees, shrubs and other plants is arranged in a natural setting that includes 12 ponds and a network of walking trails and bridges throughout the preserve. The grounds of the arboretum are open dawn to dusk, 365 days per year. Tours and field trips may be arranged in advance by calling 439-6472.