Got Nature? Blog

2020 HTIRC Annual Report Cover PhotoThe Hardwood Tree Improvement and Regeneration Center (HTIRC) was conceived in 1998 to address a perceived void in hardwood tree improvement research in the Central Hardwood Forest Region (CHFR) and is committed to enhancing the productivity and quality of CHFR trees and forests for the economic and environmental benefits they provide. Scientists at the HTIRC are using conventional tree improvement breeding as well as molecular and genetic technologies to improve the wood quality, growth characteristics, and insect and disease resistance of trees like black walnut, black cherry, red and white oaks, butternut and American chestnut. Research in tree breeding, tree nursery practices, tree plantation establishment and management, and Central Hardwoods silvicultural systems is aimed at increasing the regeneration success rate for high-quality hardwood trees and forests.

In this 2020 HTIRC Annual Report you will find current research happenings that include:

  • Integrated Digital Forestry Initiative (IDIF) – advancements in digital technology have revolutionized society and daily life. Smartphones today put more computing power in our pockets than the computer onboard with the Apollo Mission. Yet studying and managing forest resources still primarily relies on antiquated, imprecise, and tedious tools like sticks and tape measures.
  • Understanding and Manipulating Plant-soil Feedbacks To Manage The Invasive Shrub Lonicera Maackii – the overall objective of this research project is to determine the role of pathogens and AM fungi in driving or inhibiting Lonicera invasion in hardwood forests.
  • Precise Quantification of Forest Disturbances with UAS (IDIF) – the main goal of this research is to address how UAS can be properly utilized as an inventory mechanism prior to and after planned disturbance events.
  • Developing of Micropropagation and Regeneration System for Black Walnut – project objectives included: establishing sterile cultures of selected cultivars of black walnut; shoot multiplication and growth of healthy shoots; rooting and establishing plants in vitro; and successful transfer to soil and acclimation to ex-vitro conditions, including establishment in greenhouse.
  • A New, Faster, Cheaper, and Easier Way to Measure HTIRC Plantations (IDIF)- to develop and demonstrate a portable device capable of real-time tree measurements of tree diameters at regular height intervals. Although the data processing of terrestrial stereoscopic photogrammetry is much faster than for the popular SfM photogrammetry, it cannot yet provide “real-time” output, which we consider essential.

You will also find the Operational Tree Improvement Report and highlights of outreach events. Contact Wes Schempf,, for further details on how you can partner with  HTIRC.

HTIRC 2020 Annual Report
Hardwood Tree Improvement & Regeneration Center (HTIRC)
Tropical Hardwood Tree Improvement & Regeneration Center (tropHTIRC)
Partners, Purdue Forestry & Natural Resources

Weston Schempf, Research & Communications Director
Purdue Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Question: Can I plant grass over soil where a newly removed stump was ground out?

Answer: We generally don’t want to plant new trees or turf immediately over the top of existing stumps in landscapes. The reasoning is a bit complicated but somewhat simple. The stump Tree stump, Joseph OBrien, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.orglocation will have limited soil and rooting depth for nutrient uptake and structural stability due to its remaining below ground mass.

The woody debris material created from stump grinding has a high carbon to nitrogen (C:N) ratio. This reduces nitrogen availability for the new tree or grass. Also, there will be significant settling of the ground below the stump as it decays and loses its structural fiber. The soil should be added to replace the below ground roots and stump. It can take several years to fully decompose the stump unless it was ground very deeply or removed with an excavation machine.

The recommendations are adding soil to the stump area, and a little additional soil mounded to compensate for some decay. Plant the grass, preferably sod, however, seed can work, to adequately cover the newly exposed area. Be sure to add slow-release turf fertilizer to compensate for the high C:N ratio that will be robbing nutrition from the newly installed turf. Maintain adequate moisture and look for signs of yellowing, indicating low nitrogen levels.

Also, sprouts may be generated due to the roots acting as energy storage for the tree. Simply treat them with typical lawn herbicide as needed at the label recommended rates.

Fundamentals of Turfgrass Management, The Education Store, Purdue Extension Resource Center
Taking Care of Your Yard: Homeowner’s Essential Guide to Lawns, Trees, Shrubs, and Garden Flowers, The Education Store, Purdue Extension Resource Center
Homeowner Conservation Practices to Protect Water Quality, Purdue Rainscaping, Purdue Extension Resource Center
Planting Your Tree Part 1: Choosing Your Tree, Purdue Extension YouTube Channel
Purdue Landscape Report

Lindsey Purcell, Urban Forestry Specialist
Purdue Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

Most of us have probably heard or seen a lot about pollinators in the media recently. The reason why is that pollinators are really, really important. We simply can’t live without them. Researchers estimate that one out of every three bites of food we eat is made possible by pollinators. More than 100 food crops in the U.S. depend on pollinators, including almost all fruit and grain crops.

There are many different types of pollinators including native bees, butterflies and moths, beetles, flies, wasps, and of course hummingbirds. But perhaps one of the more interesting pollinators is the Monarch. Millions of Monarchs congregate in a relative small area in Mexico each winter. In March they start their journey north which has occurred over several generations. Unfortunately, the number of Monarchs counted in overwintering colonies has declined over the past 25 years.

Monarch butterfly

In response, many states including Indiana have developed a state Monarch Conservation Plan. With input from many stakeholders over several years, the Indiana Monarch Conservation Plan was released in December 2020. One goal of the plan was to create an online resource that would act as a clearinghouse for Indiana monarch and pollinator conservation data, research, best management practices (BMPs), and events. I invite you to visit the Indiana Monarch and Pollinator Conservation Hub at

You might be asking yourself, ‘Why is a wildlife specialist writing about pollinators?’ It turns out that quality habitat for wildlife is often quality habitat for pollinators. The diversity of wildflowers and structure that native grasslands, trees and shrubs benefit them all. Trees such as eastern redbud and Ohio buckeye provide early nectar sources. Native grasslands that have a diverse mixture of wildflowers provide food, bare ground, and structure desirable for a wide variety of pollinators.

Protecting Pollinators: Why Should We Care About Pollinators?, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Ask The Expert: What’s Buzzing or Not Buzzing About Pollinators , Purdue Extension – Forestry & Natural Resources (FNR) YouTube Channel
Purdue Pollinator Protection publication series, Purdue Extension Entomology
Indiana Monarch & Pollinator Conservation Hub, Indiana Wildlife Federation
Monarch Watch, University of Kansas
100 Plants to Feed the Monarch/Other Resources Available, Xerxes Society for Invertebrate Conservation

Brian MacGowan, Wildlife Extension Specialist & Extension Coordinator
Purdue Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

Jarred Brooke with Youth in the forest

Purdue Extension wildlife specialist Jarred Brooke was honored by the College of Agriculture PK-12 Council on Thursday with the Staff Excellence Award for his work with PK-12 audiences to expand their interest in and preparation for careers in natural resource sciences.

The Council’s Outreach and Engagement Awards were established to recognize, reward and celebrate faculty and staff involved in successful outreach and engagement activities and to encourage the improvement and expansion of those activities.

Jarred Brooke in forest from a youtube thumbnail

“Winning this award is truly an honor,” Brooke said. “Working with PK-12 youth and youth educators is one of the most rewarding aspects of my job. Each time I see students or teachers have those ‘aha moments’ while connecting with nature it reaffirms that I chose the right career. I would not have been able to win this award if it were not for the help of my many great colleagues at Purdue, other universities, and beyond.

“Connecting youth with nature is so vital because their outdoor experiences now will shape how they view and understand nature as adults, ultimately influencing their willingness to protect and conserve the natural world in the future.”

Brooke, who earned his wildlife degree from Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources in 2012, joined the FNR staff in August 2016. His extension work impacting youth includes conservation field days, writing natural resources-based curricula for The Nature of Teaching signature program, and also planning and overseeing the 4-H and FFA Wildlife Habitat Education Program contest among other things.

For full article >>>

Nature of Teaching, Purdue Agriculture
Natural of Teaching YouTube Channel
Indiana 4-H Youth Development, Purdue Extension
4-H Academy, Purdue Extension
College of Agriculture PK-12 Council Outreach and Engagement Awards, Purdue Agriculture
National Wildlife Habitat Education Program (WHEP), Teaching Youth Valuable Skills

Jarred Brooke, Wildlife Extension Specialist
Purdue Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

Posted on February 26th, 2021 in How To, Land Use, Natural Resource Planning, Plants | No Comments »

tpp_bannerThe Tipping Point Planner project, a joint effort by Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant and Purdue Extension, has been selected as a 2020 recipient of the Purdue College of Agriculture’s TEAM (Together Everyone Achieves More) Award.

“The TPP program stands out because of its value and impact in assisting local communities in the Great Lakes Region,” Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources department chair Bob Wagner said in his nomination. “The program is unique in that it is composed of community activities dovetailed with a decision support system (DSS) that is based on user needs assessment. The TPP program has been in existence for nearly 10 years and has demonstrated outstanding innotpp1vation and impact. As an example, Esri recently showcased TPP as a model system that uses Esri technology to assist communities in important ways. This program highlights the success that both research and extension efforts can have when working closely together.”

The program was also recognized for its accomplishments in the Sustainable Use and Stewardship of Ocean and Coastal Resources segment of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s 2019 Science Report, released in March.

The Tipping Point Planner was created to assist community leaders throughout the Great Lakes Basin in making long-term management decisions that affect environmental health of local resources and a community’s quality of life. The program, which includes a web-based decision support system, helps identify the status of watershed health by exploring land use, natural resources and environmental concerns, before determining the impacts of land-use decisions and management practices and, in turn, enables communities keep coastal ecosystems from reaching critical environmental limits, or tipping points, and becoming unstable.

tpp2In 2019, the Tipping Point Planner team worked with communities in Au Gres, Michigan; and Perrysburg, Ohio, to create action plans regarding conservation and ecological resource management. All told, more than 100 people in these areas utilized the Tipping Point Planner and collaborated in making the community decisions.

The science supporting TPP stems from multidisciplinary, collaborative work across several Big Ten universities and their associated Sea Grant and Extension offices. Lead researchers came from Purdue University, the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, the University of Illinois-Chicago, the University of Minnesota-Duluth, and NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory.

Team members secured more than $14 million in extramural funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Great Lakes Fishery Trust, EPA’s Science to Achieve Results Program, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), United States Geological Survey (USGS) Climate Change Program, Wege Foundation, and the Kellogg Foundation to enable the necessary data collection, modeling, survey work, and stakeholder interviews. The project also was funded as part of Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources’ (FNR) Signature Areas (2005-2011), which supported five FNR students working on various aspects of the project.

tpp3Dr. Bryan Pijanowski, professor of landscape and soundscape ecology; Kara Salazar, assistant program leader and extension specialist for sustainable communities; Lydia Utley, data analyst; and Daniel Walker, community planning extension specialist, are the project leaders for the Tipping Point Planner.

The project also includes representatives from Purdue Agricultural and Biological Engineering, NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory and the Michigan State University Hydrogeology Lab. Other collaborators include the Eureka Aquatic Research, LLC; Michigan State University Center for Water Sciences, Michigan State College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Michigan School for the Environment and Sustainability, the University of Albany College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the University of Minnesota Duluth Natural Resource Research Institute and the U.S. Geological Survey Great Lakes Science Center.

The full Tipping Point Planner Team consists of:
NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory

  • Dr. Edward Rutherford – Research Fishery Biologist

Purdue University Human-Environment Modeling & Analysis Laboratory

  • Dr. Bryan Pijanowski – Professor
  • Dr. Kristen Bellisario – Post-Doctoral Research Associate
  • Dr. Kimberly Robinson – Former Graduate Student
  • NahNah Kim, JD – Former Graduate Student

Purdue University Agricultural & Biological Engineering

  • Dr. Bernard Engel – Professor and Department Head
  • Dr. Larry Theller – Research Associate (Retired)
  • Dr. Yaoze Liu – Postdoctoral Research Assistant
  • Dr. Jingqiu Chen – Postdoctoral Research Associate

Michigan State University Hydrogeology Lab

  • Dr. David Hyndman – Professor and Department Chair
  • Dr. Anthony Kendall – Research Assistant Professor
  • Dr. Sherry Martin – Research Associate
  • Emily Luscz – Former Graduate Student
  • Quercus Hamlin – Graduate Student
  • Luwen Wan – Graduate Student

Michigan State University Center for Water Sciences

  • Dr. R. Jan Stevenson – Professor and Co-Director of CWS

Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability

  • Dr. Mike Wiley – Professor (Retired)
  • Dr. Catherine Riseng – Professor

Eureka Aquatic Research LLC

  • Dr. Hongyan Zhang – Aquatic Ecologist

USGS Great Lakes Science Center

  • Dr. Yu-Chun Kao – Research Associate

University of Minnesota Duluth Natural Resource Research Institute

  • Dr. Lucinda Johnson –Associate Director for Water

Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant

  • Dr. Brian Miller – Director (Retired) and Project Manager
  • Kara Salazar – Assistant Program Leader and Extension Specialist for Sustainable Communities
  • Dan Walker – Community Planning Extension Specialist
  • Lydia Utley – Data Analyst
  • Ben Wegleitner – Former Outreach Assistant

Tipping Point Planner
Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant Tipping Point Planner
With GIS, Communities See How Land-Use Changes May Affect Local Water Quality
Tipping Point Planner curriculum available from Purdue Extension Education Store
Tipping Point Planner Online course
Tipping Points: What are they? Why are they important?
Tipping Point Planner

Kara Salazar, Assistant Program Leader and Extension Specialist for Sustainable Communities
Purdue Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

Join Purdue Extension forester Lenny Farlee and Dr. Carrie Pike, a forest regeneration specialist with the USDA Forest Service, as they share about conservation tree planting, what species are available to plant, where to get them and more.

If you have any questions regarding trees, forest management, wildlife, wood products or other natural resource topics, feel free to contact us by using our Ask an Expert web page.

Find An Indiana Forester Website
Reforestation, Nurseries and Genetics Resources Website (RNGR.NET)
A Nursery Guide for the Production of Bareroot Hardwood Seedlings, RNGR.NET
Landowner Information, Hardwood Tree Improvement Regeneration Center (HTIRC)
Ask An Expert, Playlist, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources Youtube channel
A Woodland Management Moment, Playlist
Ask An Expert: Tree Inspection, Video
Planting Forest Trees and Shrubs in Indiana, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Tree Appraisal and the Value of Trees, The Education Store
Investing in Indiana Woodlands, The Education Store
Forest Improvement Handbook, The Education Store

Lenny Farlee, Sustaining Hardwood Extension Specialist
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resource

NOTAwardBannerThe Nature of Teaching, a Purdue Extension signature program, was honored as the third place finisher in the central region for the Environmental Education Award presented by the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Science (NEAFCS).
The Environmental Education Award recognizes NEAFCS members for outstanding educational programs conducted for families and/or communities on various environmental issues/concerns.
The Nature of Teaching includes formal standards-base curricula and informal activity-based curricula centered around getting youth outside. The program curricula is focused on three areas: Wildlife, Health and Wellness, and Food Waste. Classroom ready lesson plans for grades kindergarten through 12 are available as are professional development workshops for teachers, focused on science, the environment and getting students connected with nature.
“I’m very happy to have the Nature of Teaching team recognized by our professional association as many team members are also members of the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences,” health and human sciences extension educator Kelsie Jo Muller said. “The Nature of Teaching team has developed over multiple years and added different discipline areas all working together. It’s great to see all of the hard work recognized.”

NOTTeamThe Nature of Teaching team includes:

  • Deb Arseneau, HHS Educator, Newton County
  • Jarred Brooke, extension wildlife specialist
  • Jay Christiansen, health and human sciences extension educator for Vigo County
  • Robert Cordes, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) wildlife special projects coordinator
  • Molly Hoag, health and human sciences extension educator for Wells County
  • Molly Hunt, health and human sciences extension educator for Delaware County
  • Rebecca Koetz, urban ag/home horticulture extension educator for Lake County
  • Tami Mosier, 4-H youth development extension educator
  • Kelsie Muller, health and human sciences extension educator for Benton County
  • Dr. Rod Williams, professor and extension wildlife specialist
  • Brad Zitscke, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) assistant regional wildlife biologist
All of the NEAFCS awards will be presented in September as part of the NEAFCS Virtual Annual Session.
Nature of Teaching
Nature of Teaching YouTube Channel
Transporting Food Waste, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Resourceful Animal Relationships, The Education Store
Benefits of Connecting with Nature, The Education Store

Nature of Teaching

TheHelm-2020-SepThe Helm is a collection of Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant (IISG)‘s research, outreach, and education success stories and ongoing activities to address coastal concerns. In this issue, we focus on addressing urban flooding, the seafood trade deficit, critical natural resources, and more.

Headlines from this issue:

  • Building better rain gardens to reduce runoff
  • Regional and local efforts focus on growing aquaculture
  • Science and scientists become real for scientists and teachers
  • Communities set natural resource priorities and create action plans
  • Buoys provide key data to predict dangerous currents

Ask An Expert: Rainscaping, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources Youtube Channel
Rainscaping Education Program, Purdue University
Master Gardeners Program
Rainscaping, Playlist
Rain Gardens Go with the Flow, Indiana Yard and Garden, Purdue Horticulture
Climate Change: How will you manage stormwater runoff?, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Salmon and Trout of the Great Lakes: A Visual Identification Guide, The Education Store
Pond Management: Stocking Fish in Indiana Ponds, The Education Store
The Nature of Teaching: Adaptations for Aquatic Amphibians, The Education Store
What plants can I landscape with in area that floods with hard rain? Got Nature? Blog, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources
New toolkit makes finding weather and climate lesson plans easy, Got Nature? Blog

Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant (IISG)

ASABEIN-PREPared: The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) recently awarded the Purdue Rural Emergency Preparedness program (IN-PREPared) with The Blue Ribbon Award for their efforts to provide disaster and emergency resources and training to Indiana residents, especially through their specially created website.

Founded in 1907, ASABE is an educational and scientific organization dedicated to the advancement of engineering applicable to agricultural, food, and biological systems with members in more than 100 countries.

Shawn Ehlers, Assistant Clinical Professor of Agriculture and Biological Engineering and IN-PREPared Program Leader said many members of ASABE are involved with Extension outreach in their focus area.

“Part of ASABE’s Pillars of Practice involve ergonomics, safety and health, as well as education outreach and professional development,” Ehlers said.

“The Blue Ribbon Awards are the society’s way of acknowledging impactful contributions and this year, IN-PREPared was chosen to receive the honors for Extension Websites and its impact on the community,” he added.

Previous university efforts to serve Extension educators, rural communities, and first responders stemmed from three primary sources which included Purdue Agricultural Safety and Health Program (PUASHP), Purdue Extension, and the National Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN) materials and training. Each entity produced and distributed valuable resources and training, but the separate efforts lacked cohesiveness.

“The IN-PREPared program and website provide a publicly accessible and unified home for appropriate resources, and also serves to enhance the visibility, awareness, and usage of programming and resources offered by state or federal government agencies and non-profit organizations dedicated to rural emergency preparedness and response through partnerships and resource sharing,” Ehlers explained.

Ehlers also said this new program, launched in August 2019, was prompted by the need to be instrumental in bringing relevant material together on emergency preparedness for their specific audience – a key he believes to the successes of the IN-PREPared program.

“The past several months have demonstrated how our society can adapt to a situation to meet the needs of communities across the state and nation, because making informed decisions is at the heart of preparing for unexpected or emerging circumstances,” he said.

IN-PREPared has categorized content to be conveniently accessed by users with topics that include weather events, disease prevention (a COVID-19 specific resource page), rural specific hazard response, and links to online trainings, and PREP-Notes which are used by Extension Educators, teachers, and volunteers to craft news releases and share information on multiple platforms.

Other cohorts in this award-winning effort include former extension educator and staff member at the Indiana State Department of Agriculture Ed Sheldon, who assisted in the overall resource development and website management. Sheldon also works with the National AgrAbility Project, the Ag Vets program, and IN-PREPared.

Bill Field, Professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, leader of the Purdue Ag Safety and Health Program, and Project Director for the National AgrAbility Project, and served as the co-developer and instructor of three Homeland/Agrosecurity graduate level courses at Purdue.

“Above all else, IN-PREPared is focused on collaborating with experts in our federal and state agencies, as well as universities and non-profits so we can bring collective knowledge to our rural Hoosiers so they can be “PREPared” for the unexpected—not possible without the reach of the Extension system in all 92 Indiana counties,” Ehlers emphasized.

Community Planning for Agriculture and Natural Resources: A Guide for Local Government, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Trees and Storms, The Education Store
Indiana Impacts & Resources, Purdue Climate Change Research Center
Climate Change: Communication strategies to support local planning, The Education Store


Receive tips and tricks about establishing native grasses and forbs for wildlife. Don’t miss the question and answer time with our Purdue Extension Wildlife experts.

If you have any questions regarding wildlife, or other natural resource topics, feel free to contact us by using our Ask an Expert web page.

Natural Resources Conservation Service Indiana
Pheasant Forever
Quail Forever
Pure Live Seed: Calculations and Considerations for Wildlife Food Plots, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources
Seed Fillers and Carriers for Planting Native Warm-season Grasses and Forbs, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources
Calibrating a No-Till Drill for Conservation Plantings and Wildlife Food Plots, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources Youtube channel

Jarred Brooke, Extension Wildlife Specialist
Purdue Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

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