By Yoav Jacob

Student intern Yoav Jacob brought a love of nature and an appreciation of its many benefits to his internship at Matthaei-Nichols. When he took a tour of the Arb with Director Bob Grese and other interns this May, he came away with a deeper understanding of the forces that have shaped the area.
On a tour of Nichols Arboretum with the summer 2017 interns,
Director Bob Grese (second from left) discusses the original donation
of land from a local homestead that lead to the establishment of the Arb.
It’s exciting to see the Arboretum waking from the long winter, the empty landscape once again turning green. With my internship in full swing, this summer is gearing up to be one full of an amazing blend of new friends, learning, and of course—fun! Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum staff were offered a tour of the Arb by Director Bob Grese on May 16 (see photo). As we walked through the various areas of the Arb, Bob explained how the land had been preserved and used by the Ann Arbor community in the last hundred years and what’s been speculated about Native American influence in the region. When we stopped briefly near the prairie in the Arb’s Alex Dow Field I was taken aback to learn that several years ago a fallen tree had exposed an approximately 3,000-year-old Native American stone plow. It’s thought that nomadic Native Americans purposely buried the plow to hide it and other tools between seasons. (The stone plow is now in the collection of the University of Michigan Museum of Anthropological Archaeology.) The tour deepened my appreciation for this natural landscape found within urbanized Ann Arbor, reinforcing my longstanding connection to nature. 
Backpacking, hiking, and caring deeply about the environment being three of my most prevalent pastimes, I think I can classify myself as “outdoorsy.” I’ve spent several afternoons throughout the past year exploring the Arboretum, learning its various paths and trying to internalize the landscape. Whether visitors are running through, taking their dog(s) for a walk, or simply there to listen to the river’s song, it’s clear the Ann Arbor community appreciates the Arb as a quiet escape from the bustle of Ann Arbor life. For me, Nichols Arboretum is a lot more.
I grew up taking nature walks with my parents and grandparents in local parks and through a small local arboretum. Family vacations often gravitated around national parks and trips to scenic areas in Israel. I’ve concluded that time with nature is a key component to the maintenance of my positivity and energy. Strolls through the Arb help me process what’s going on in my life and they help slow my ever-racing schedule down to the point where I can confidently tackle the challenges that often appear. Having access to places like the Arboretum is key to my success, and I’m excited to continue developing a relationship with the area in the coming weeks, months, and years.
Yoav Jacob, from Setauket, New York, is a rising sophomore in the honors program at the University of Michigan. He is currently undeclared, but interested in chemistry, biology, and sustainability. He is a horticulture intern this summer and looks forward to learning more about greenhouse work and Arboretum maintenance. His hobbies include running (especially in the Arb), cooking, and looking for dogs to pet around campus. Yoav’s internship is supported by the Norman Memorial Fund created by Steve and Ann Norman for the care and maintenance of the outdoor plant collections at Matthaei Botanical Gardens.