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To Understand a Tree with Bob Leverett

April 11, 2020 @ 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

This event has been canceled due to public health concerns.
“To Understand a Tree,” is an interdisciplinary art and science project. Come learn about trees and carbon with old-growth forest expert Bob Leverett, artist Gina Siepel, and naturalist Kate Wellspring. Bob will demonstrate how to measure the carbon sequestration capacity of a typical New England forest tree—a Red Oak of approximately 75 years of age.

On site in the forest, Bob will show us his original and groundbreaking mathematical method for calculating the volume of a tree and its carbon content. This helps us to grasp the role our local forests play in the carbon cycle and in mitigating climate change.

This event is part of the ongoing interdisciplinary art project “To Understand a Tree,” involving a contemplative and observational study of a single Red Oak tree in the forest from the perspective of a woodworker, a naturalist, and a variety of guest contributors. The project focuses on the relationship between forest and furniture, with broader implications for all craftspeople and consumers of wood and paper materials. We will explore:

  • How much carbon is stored in this tree?
  • What is the rate of its carbon sequestration?
  • How can we understand the total carbon footprint of cutting it down?


  • Robert T. Leverett is the co-founder of the Native Tree Society, the co-founder and President of Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest, a senior advisor to American Forests on the Champion Tree Program, co-founder of the Champion Tree Certification Cadre, and Chair of the Massachusetts DCR Forest Reserves Science Advisory Committee.
  • Gina Siepel is an interdisciplinary artist, designer, and woodworker based in Greenfield, MA. Her work explores cultural understandings of nature, gender, and American history, through the production of objects and collaborative experiments in public spaces. She has exhibited extensively in the northeastern US, and has been an artist-in-residence at Skowhegan, Sculpture Space, Hewnoaks, and the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship. Gina holds a BFA from SUNY Purchase, an MFA from the Maine College of Art, and teaches studio foundations at Mount Holyoke College.
  • Kate Wellspring is a naturalist and field botanist who serves as the technical coordinator for the rare plant seed bank at Native Plant Trust, the nation’s first plant conservation organization. Kate was the Collections Curator at the Beneski Museum of Natural History at Amherst College (2003-2016). Concerned about the future of native plants and New England landscapes, she has lead rare plant surveys for the Massachusetts Chapter of the Nature Conservancy and for for the New England Plant Conservation Program. In addition to her experience as an instructor at Amherst College, Kate has taught naturalist programs for Mass Audubon, and has lead numerous natural history walks in the Connecticut River Valley of Massachusetts.



April 11, 2020
1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
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MacLeish Field Station
Whately, MA


Kestrel Land Trust
Smith College
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