Nature’s Secrets

Museum stages 5-month TREES R US celebration

August 19, 2012 

Meg Lowman is an N.C. State University professor and forest canopy expert who directs the Nature Research Center, N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences. Online:

“The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The next-best time is now.”
- African proverb

What would we do without trees? They grow while we sleep, and effortlessly provide us with many services essential for life on our planet – from oxygen production to providing food, building materials, medicines and shade. Scientists and educators of the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences and its new wing, the Nature Research Center, invite you to participate in a celebration of trees. Through December, watch out for some amazing tree-related science as part of a “TREES R US” theme. All free.

The Nature Research Center will announce new themes every six months, so you can experience new science activities on repeat visits to the downtown Raleigh museum.

TREES R US launched with a virtual visit to the forests of Cameroon this month to learn about orchid farming, a sustainable practice wherein Africans derive income from harvesting flowers, not logging the trees. Dr. Bernard Nkongmeneck, professor of biology and plant physiology at the University of Yaounde in Cameroon, co-hosted the program from Cameroon, thanks to the connectivity of the State Employees Credit Union Daily Planet multimedia theater. French translations were provided by Raleigh student Daniel Braden, who is majoring in French at Canada’s McGill University.

The first fall teen science café, hosted at the Daily Planet Café at 6 p.m. on First Friday (Sept. 7), will feature rainforests with a discussion titled “Going, Going, Gone?” Free food if you are a teenager! And don’t miss “Ants in Your Pants,” a presentation at 7 p.m. Sept.13 from National Geographic photographer Mark “Dr. Bugs” Moffett. He explores the planet to discover canopy-dwelling ants.

Science comedian Brian Malow will interview Dr. Bugs and other distinguished forest scientists during subsequent Thursdays throughout fall in the Daily Planet Café. Tree-climbing workshops with me – “Canopy Meg” – will be held during October and November. Museum visitors can also learn how to read a tree core with the Investigate Lab activity (“Age a Tree”) or check out some neat facts about tree DNA in the Genomics Laboratory. “Tree of Life” culinary experiences will feature different foods and drinks derived from forests.

TREES R US celebrates a partnership between the Nature Research Center and the USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station. Research station scientists conduct domestic and international forest science research, and engage in collaborative efforts that contribute to natural resource management and sustainability. Stay tuned to for more information on tree-related events and activities.

Meg Lowman is an N.C. State University professor and forest canopy expert who directs the Nature Research Center, N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences. Online:

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