I live in the coolest (and cheapest) house in Ann Arbor. For the past year, I’ve had the privilege of being a caretaker for Nichols Arboretum. Basically, I am to the University of Michigan what Hagrid is to Hogwarts, without the cool pets. Caretakers earn their housing by being the “eyes and ears” of the Arboretum.
|Almost the entire cottage
is covered in wood paneling.
Very groovy baby!
Compared to the number of interns, Arboretum caretakers make up a smaller crew. There are five caretakers altogether, and we complete a number of tasks to help the Matthaei-Nichols staff. We lead volunteer workdays, shovel snow, conduct basic equipment and facilities maintenance, maintain trails, help with special events, create and maintain proper signs, enforce the rules of the Arb, pick up the trash, and other duties as requested. I love that I get to work closely with the other caretakers and staff or independently if I prefer. Perhaps my least favorite task is rule enforcement.
|A hint of fall color along the
At this point, I’ve seen the Arb transition between all of Michigan’s seasons. Fall means 5K runs and beautiful changing colors. The Arb is full of native oak, hickory, and maple trees, as well as a variety of rare and interesting specimens introduced to create our living museum.
|Our backyard, the southern part of the main valley.|
Spring and its warmer weather bring people back to the Arb. In the winter it’s easy to imagine the Arb as our own space. Obviously, the Arb belongs to everyone, but with the return of visitors it seems that every nice day brings a new party of guests to our backyard.
|Rhododendron blooming in May by the peony garden.|
|My furry neighbors! Deer flourish
without any large predators in the area.
|Sun rising over the Huron River|
|Selfi of the author in prescribed-
Katie Hammond is originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan.
She just graduated with her Master’s in Social Work and plans
to use her degree to improve human service programs. This year, Katie is working with several different administrative departments
at the Gardens and is also a one of the Nichols Arboretum Caretakers. In her free time, she enjoys reading fiction/fantasy
and traveling. Katie’s internship is made possible by ReDirect,
an Ann Arbor-based nonprofit founded by Steven and Rachel Kaplan. The funds will help Katie explore ways that the Reasonable Person Model can be applicable to Matthaei-Nichols volunteer programs while supporting the organization’s stewardship efforts. Read more about the Reasonable Person Model here.