Speak for the Trees Merit Badge, Beginner Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 6,346 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—9,010 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! MJ 

Wondering who I am? I’m Merit Badge Awardee Jane (MBA Jane for short). In my former life   

For this week’s Outpost/Speak for the Trees Beginner Level Merit Badge, I got a perfectly perfect excuse to visit my bestie at the Bureau of Land Management. Sometimes, she forgets we’re besties, but I always remind her with a peppy hello (and a latte).

Being BFFs with a nature and wildlife guru is way cool, girls. I cannot recommend it highly enough, and I totally encourage you to take a latte over to your local BLM and test my theory. Sadly, Debbie was in a fish-naming meeting (very important, very hush-hush), so I left her coffee on her desk and took what I came for: a handy-dandy pamphlet on local trees.

Foliage. Saplings. Bushes. Greenery. Vegetation. Shrubs. From the itty to the Redwood, I was finally going to learn a little something about trees, and I was excited to further my Verdure Education, so to speak.


Since I’m a bit of a Visual/Kinetic Learner, I decided to combine my two requirements for this badge into one nice, long walk. See, I could have read my pamphlet at home and then go for my walk to identify the trees, but I have something of a short-term memory. Not to mention, my ADOS* can rear its head when I least expect it.

I didn’t think my process through, obviously, since I spent half the time walking into the trees I was trying to identify as I studied, but no matter. Some people are tree huggers … I’m a tree collider.

Trees I found and can now identify proudly:

  • The Western White Pine (it’s my state tree, peeps!)
  • The Ponderosa Pine (smells heavenly)
  • Balsam Pine (deep inhale)
  • Western Hemlock (a natural weather vane, as its needles and branches actually bend away from the wind)
  • Lodgepole Pine (makes me dream of log cabins)

There are so many more to classify and recognize, I knew it was going to take more than one short walk (and one hazelnut latte), so I made up my mind—ouch, there’s another Balsam—to keep my BLM brochure at arm’s reach whenever I’m hiking, camping, glamping, or just plain out in nature. Bein’ one with the trees, farmgirls … I can see me now: pointing out the lesser-known varieties—like the Englemann Spruce, the Pacific Yew, or the Black Cottonwood—to my eager audience and fellow tree colliders … Yowch, my toe! Dabnabbit, that Quaking Aspen came out of nowhere!

Anyway, I earned my Beginner Level Badge, alright. I have the knowledge, the badge, and the stubbed toes to prove it. Totally worth it, gals.

*Attention Deficit – Oh, Shiny!



Leave a comment 5 Comments

  1. Cindi says:

    We have so many resources (free!) at our fingertips yet never think to use them. That is an excellent idea. I could impress all of my out of town visitors with a knowledgeable, longer than one word answer when they ask me what sort of trees grown around here. Maybe even venture into the mushroom department ~ not to be distracted by the berry bushes… AD-OS Hahahaha. That’s perfect!

  2. Winnie Nielsen says:

    I remember earning my tree badge for Girl Scouts. Sounds like it is time for me to do another badge since I am living in Florida now and the trees will be different.

  3. I so emphasize MaryJane ! No matter how many tree ID books ( new and antique ) I get I am still trying to identify the many trees on my partially wooded farmette. For instance the big shade tree in front of the farmhouse has defeated me for the 3 years I have lived here and been researching it. The little Golden Guide is actually the most helpful. I even have a turn of the century tree leaf pressing book, which I found in a bookshop filled the old pressed leaves still in it. It has the outlines of the leaves and the tree name, very beautiful. A friend who is one of the top arborists in the country helped me to ID some.

  4. Deborah McKissic says:

    We had a tree course in our master gardeners class…oh, my..such a knowledgeable person taught that class…I learned a lot..sort of…I know the trees n my yard..of an acre…and, when I was told I could not have chickens, by our borough….much less the wanted cow…sigh…I decided to add “tree faces” to my trees…a forest of trees like that of the Wizard of Oz…it is a project in the makng..so far my chestnut tree has a face…”Charlie”..so real looking..and, the pine standing next to Charlie is smiling..”Miss Misty Pine”..and, there’s the redbud I planted when my dad passed away…it has flowers before leaves and the leaves are heart shaped to remind me of his tenderness to all..properly named “George Bud”….so, on to purchase more tree faces and add to my forest of trees…the most unusual varieties that I remember by their faces…not their bark…ha ha

  5. Karlyne says:

    Oh, MBA Jane, you crack me up! ADOS, indeed!

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