Five Questions with Naturalist Jim Gilbert: Arboretum Anniversary Edition

Minnesota naturalist Jim Gilbert answers five questions as we celebrate the 45th anniversary of the Linnaeus Arboretum.
Posted on April 22nd, 2018 by

On Arbor Day, Friday, April 27, Gustavus Adolphus College’s Linnaeus Arboretum will celebrate its 45th anniversary with a ceremonial tree planting, luncheon, and featured remarks from noted Minnesota naturalist and former director of the arboretum Jim Gilbert.

In preparation for the celebration, we sat down to ask Gilbert five questions…

Gustavus: What first sparked your fascination with the natural world?

Jim Gilbert: My parents. They fed birds and had a garden, took us on trips up north. They had a cabin and I always looked forward to seeing the wilderness, the loons, and other birds.

Gustavus: What is special about our Minnesotan environment? Is Minnesota facing any unique challenges within the current climate?

JG: The fact that we have three biomes: the boreal forest, deciduous forest, and prairie areas. All those biomes plus all the beautiful lakes make Minnesota so special. As for challenges, my research is on global warming. I’ve worked on it for like 40 years. People are always asking, “What’s global warming? It’s so cold out.” Many places on the earth are much warmer even though we are much colder. It’s climate change overall that is dangerous.

The Linnaeus Arboretum has anchored the southwest corner of the Gustavus campus since 1973.

Gustavus: How have you seen the Linnaeus Arboretum change and grow in the past 45 years?

JG: I was there when it first started. I had just started working for Gustavus when the tornado hit 20 years ago. The tornado took probably half the trees in the arboretum. I think the whole campus, and the arboretum in particular, look much different. But I think it looks so good, it has come back so nicely. 20 years of growth on trees really makes the environment look great. We’ve come back from a major tornado hitting Gustavus and Saint Peter, and I think it looks absolutely wonderful since coming back from that.

Gustavus: What can we learn from studying the natural world?

JG: We can learn that we are actually part of nature. Once you realize that we are a part of it all, you can understand that we need to do our best to be good stewards… Because we are a part of this whole thing, it’s our responsibility to be good stewards.

Gustavus: What is your favorite part about the nature at Gustavus?

JG: I like the fact that the arboretum continues onto the campus. You can walk the trails of the arboretum and see the campus buildings. Similarly, you can be on Hello Walk, or somewhere else on campus, and see the nature surrounding it. I’ve been to a lot of schools, but Gustavus is so unique to have an arboretum attached. Buildings are important, but the setting… I think the arboretum alongside the campus is just a neat setting.

Tickets for the Linnaeus Arboretum’s 45th anniversary event can be purchased at the Information Desk or at Tickets are $10.00 for Friends of Linnaeus Arboretum members and $15.00 for non-members.


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication Luc Hatlestad


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