"Bayou Bill" Scifres
Dedicated to the conservation and enjoyment of Indiana's natural resources
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Revolutionary Change in the Study of Trees--
Trees of Indiana on CD-ROM
Copyright © 2002 by Bill Scifres

It is never easy--and often is imprudent--to even hint that tried and true methods or products could be augmented or replaced.

And so it is with some trepidation that this column points out that there are new kids on the block in the area of dendrology, the scientific study of trees, or mere tree enthusiasm, including hundreds of thousands of school kids and their parents who must help their offspring with the annual school leaf collection project.

The thing that is bringing about this revolutionary change in the study of trees is a brand spanking new CD, Trees of Indiana, recently published (if that is how CDs come into this electronic world) by the Purdue University Agricultural Communication Department.

The “new kids," originators of the CD, are Sally Weeks, who has turned her MS thesis into the greatest aid to the study of trees I have ever seen (focused on Indiana’s native trees), and Dr. George Parker, who needs no introduction to Hoosier conservationists and the state’s scientific community.

How the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has managed to look past Dr. Parker when doling out “Conservationist of the Year” awards in the last 10 years is a mystery to this old geezer. If they do it again, the entire DNR should be dragged in (kicking and squealing) for a round of saliva tests. 

George Parker’s is best known to conservationists of the state for his “one-man-gang” effort that convinced mamby-pamby politicians that the flora of our state parks system must be protected from a burgeoning deer herd. He has been at the fore in many areas of resource conservation in Indiana, including teaching forest-related courses at Purdue for more than 30 years.

Sally, who also earned her BS degree in forestry at Purdue, has amassed more than 8,500 digital images of trees, their leaves, buds, twigs and other features. Dr. Parker was Sally’s major professor in her quest for her MS. Her thesis turned into this CD.

My copy came in the mail last Saturday afternoon, but I did not have a chance to slip it into the CD bin of my computer until later that night. Imagine my surprise when the computer screen blinked a couple of times and this beautiful piece of work flashed in full, living color on my screen.

It is so easy to use that even an electronics basket case such as this old geezer can figure it out in a few minutes. Imagine how those little people, computer experts that they are, will handle it.

Just slip the CD in your computer, close the gate and marvel as this plain-language text on white screen explains the purpose and operation of this new teaching/learning tool. Down the left side of the screen you will see several options.

Click on "Species List" and you will get a list of 102 trees native to Indiana. The CD includes useful data on 16 introduced species.

Click on a species and you will get the scientific name of the tree, Latin or Greek words from which the name derived, and other interesting facts. Additional text will give you many interesting pictorial facts about the species, including leaves, buds, fruit (seeds), and other facets of the total picture.

To get back to the species list, you merely click on “Back,” and to get back to your boring life, just click on the acorn “Quit.”

To get an order form for the CD, write: Agricultural Communication, Media Distribution Center, 231 South University Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2064. The e-mail address for ordering the CD is:  media.order@purdue.edu. The price is $25.00.

To imply that the Trees of Indiana CD transcends the work of the late and great Charles Deam, and his book of the same name, would border on sacrilege. But it certainly augments Deam’s work, even in view of the fact that the CD will be improved in the future.

It seems to me that this CD--in its present form--belongs in every library of the state, especially those of schools and communities. It can lead to a better understanding of trees and their importance in our lives. If you have a CD player, you should own Trees of Indiana.


Trees of Indiana CD Cover Photo Creators of the CD, Trees of Indiana, are Sally Weeks, right, and Dr. George Parker, of the Purdue University Forestry and Natural Resources Department.


All columns are copyrighted by Bill Scifres and may not be reproduced in any form without prior permission from the author.  For reproduction permission and media usage fees, contact: Bill Scifres, 6420 East 116th Street, Fishers, IN 46038, E-mail: billscifres@aol.com

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