Two Adkins Arboretum staff members participated recently in training at Harvard University’s Arnold Arboretum to support Adkins Arboretum’s partnership with the Sentinel Plant Network (SPN).

A collaboration between the American Public Gardens Association and the National Plant Diagnostic Network, SPN contributes to plant conservation by engaging public garden professionals, volunteers and visitors in the detection and diagnosis of high consequence pests and pathogens. The network is committed to identifying outbreaks of exotic plant pests so that strategies can be employed for their control, with the goal of avoiding devastations such as the loss of the American chestnut in the 1930s and the more recent Emerald Ash borer that is disseminated in native green ash populations.

Arboretum Youth Program Coordinator Jenny Houghton and ecologist Dr. Sylvan Kaufman attended the two-day conference along with 40 other professionals representing public gardens in the Northeast. Participants learned about best practices for scouting and reporting plant pests and diseases, as well as how to use SPN training modules and other resources in the Arboretum’s internal operations and public programming.

“I have offered several programs on invasive plants at the Arboretum, and the resources provided by the Sentinel Plant Network make it possible to share information on other invasive species that could appear in our region,” said Kaufman. “Many of the potential insect and disease threats are to trees, and this provides an early warning system for the Arboretum and local community that could save our forests.”

“The Emerald Ash borer has been found in Maryland but is not yet present on the Eastern Shore,” Kaufman explained. “Early detection of this insect could help save street trees and important specimen trees on the Shore. My hope is that people who walk regularly at the Arboretum and at Tuckahoe State park, volunteers, Master Gardeners, Master Naturalists, boaters and community tree stewards will all learn how to detect signs of new invasive species and will learn how to report suspected problems.”

“The Network provides training modules that can be used to create educational sessions for people who want to be able to detect invasive species threats in our area,” added Houghton. “These sessions will provide the public with information about the Sentinel Plant Network and will inform in-depth training of volunteers interested in monitoring the Arboretum’s woodland for plant pests and pathogens.”

The Arboretum will offer a program this spring about the Sentinel Plant Network. For more information, visit adkinsarboretum.org.

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