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Read Alison's Articles

Alison grew up in Kent and is currently pursuing her PhD in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at Yale University. She holds a BA in Environmental Studies & Mathematics from Williams College. A former intern in conservation and community outreach at the Kent Land Trust, Alison additionally developed her love for the natural world through work with the Central Park Conservancy and Camp Brookwoods & Deer Run.


We love the way Alison's writing resonates with our wonder and strong sense of place while connecting this inner, personal knowledge to science within Kent and far beyond. We're excited to showcase Alison's writings as a regular feature this year.

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Alison as an intern at Kent Mountain Preserve

Alison now

Tree ID 

What is the purpose of learning to identify trees -- especially in the winter season? While learning to recognize different species even when they are leafless sounds like a difficult task, small details like subtle early flowers, uniquely delightful buds, and surprisingly fragrant bark makes the task a satisfying, worthwhile endeavor. Read on for some tips on my favorite tree identification features, as well as the unique perks of getting to know your trees.

A Case For Getting To Know Your Trees

When I tell you that I first caught my boyfriend’s attention with my tree identification skills, it’s barely an exaggeration. We were out for an autumn hike with a group of fellow graduate students when he started pointing out a charming assortment of birds through the branches: the bright crest of a cheeping Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, the fluttering hops of a migrating Blackpoll Warbler, and the long, banded tail of a soaring American Kestrel. Not to be outdone, but lacking in his superpowers of bird identification, I repaid his observations with a glimpse at the magic to be found in the branches themselves.


Click here to read more about the enchantments Alison saw in the woods and why she loves sharing the practice of observing trees.

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