Close Memorial Park
in tree identification, an arboretum is a wonderful outdoor classroom that can test your knowledge or help you learn about new plants,” Gartner said.
Partnerships and Volunteers
The arboretum at Close Park demonstrates the importance of partnerships and citizen volunteers. The arboretum’s main partners are the Springfield-Greene County Park Board, the Close Family, the University of Missouri Extension and the Missouri Department of Conservation.
“In general, working together with other organizations helps make a better end product,” Gartner said. “Each organization or agency brings a different perspective and a different set of skills and contacts. The synergy which results from a partnership of closely allied groups can have some astounding results.”
Adams said the arboretum serves as an example of how valuable volunteers are to an organization. Close Memorial Park offers 54 acres of relaxation and escape in addition to native Missouri trees.
“If we didn’t have volunteers, this wouldn’t be a state-of-the-art department,” Adams said, referring to the Gold Medal Award the Springfield-Greene County Park Board received from the National Recreation and Park Association in 2000. “We need volunteers so desperately because we can’t do all the work with paid personnel.”
No duties are too big—or too menial—for those who volunteer countless hours developing the arboretum.
“We help plant trees, we mulch trees, we trim trees—we do whatever needs to be done,” Close said. “I’m just the person who does things. I’m not an expert by any means. There are people who know the Latin names of the trees and things of that nature, but that’s not me. Those people are specialists. I guess you could say I’m a generalist.”
Specialists and generalists alike are still needed at the park because the arboretum at Close Park is a work in progress. Plantings of more trees are planned as species and funds become available. A botanical center is planned that will not only highlight the arboretum but will also emphasize the floral components of both Close Memorial Park and its next-door neighbor, Nathaniel Greene Park.
Close is also working with several high schools and local universities in Springfield to make the arboretum an educational tool that could be used by area classrooms.
But Close is quick to add that you don’t have to be a student to get an education at Close Park’s arboretum. Anyone who wants to take time to read the signs can learn more about Missouri’s trees.
“You know, we all grow up amongst all these trees, but we don’t really know what’s out there,” he said. “We’re hoping to increase the tree education of everyone that goes to the park.”
Just as Missouri’s highly successful Stream Team program has brought increased attention to the state’s waterways, Forest ReLeaf of Missouri is helping to improve the state’s forests.
This program, which is administered in Missouri through the Missouri Department of Conservation and the Missouri Community Forestry Council, encourages volunteers to become actively involved in caring for the state’s trees. It has five primary goals:
- To raise public awareness of the need for tree planting.
- To facilitate community dialogue and action based upon needs identified through accepted forestry practices.
- To initiate tree plantings in Missouri and elsewhere that will supplement regular plantings and involve public and private organizations and individuals.
- To improve existing community forests and trees by promoting the proper care of trees.
- To address forestry objectives identified through partnerships with the Missouri Department of Conservation and the Missouri Community Forestry Council.
To get information on how to get involved with Forest ReLeaf of Missouri, contact your regional Missouri Department of Conservation office or see the links listed below.