Booking a Field Trip to A.B. Williams Memorial Woods
Thank you for choosing the Discover – Explore – Connect curriculum and infusing your classroom with natural history lessons. Now it is time for the field trips. Our team has developed a series of activities that are supported by naturalist staff at Cleveland Metroparks (CMP) to further advance your students natural history skills and provide a deeper perspective to the importance and value of protecting nature.
Introduction to A.B. Williams Memorial Woods
A place to grow, a place to learn and a place to reflect. A.B. Williams Memorial Woods has been inspiring the people of Northeast Ohio for nearly a century. A.B. Williams, Cleveland Metroparks first naturalist, embraced these woods as he conducted his doctoral studies and established the first Trailside Museum in the 1930s. This forest is home to 300 and 400 year-old beech trees, sugar maples, a rare stand of hemlocks, and a variety of other native forest species. It is a National Natural Landmark and member of the Old Growth Forest Network. To learn more about this forest explore the A.B. Williams Archives, and check out his published dissertation which focused on these forests The Composition and Dynamics of a Beech-Maple Climax Community.
Ethics and Behavior
You are about to enter a special place that, while old and rugged, has many delicate inhabitants. While you are here, please remember to respect the plants and animals who call this place home.
- Respect the fragile nature of the environment by staying on trails (except when instructed).
- Enjoy the natural environment, but do not disturb, destroy, deface, injure or remove any part of the forest, including plants, rocks, buildings, signs, equipment or property
- Put litter in trash containers
- Experiencing the complete wonder of the forest requires uses of all of our senses, so walk slow, talk quietly, listen and take time to be still.
Activities, What Should we do?
Our team has put together a diverse combination of activities to guide students and teachers as they develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for nature. There is something for everyone, and you can find activities for any time of the year. However, due to the seasonal variation in forest communities, some activities have limitations as to when they can be done. Activities include leisurely tours of the forest that are suitable for just about any age or level of expertise. Additionally, some activities include technical and quantitative field work to compare different parts of the forest and reflect on changes from the 1930s. Be sure to review the activities and consult the CMP naturalist to determine which activities are best for your class. We recommend completing all the lesson plans before your visit, but be sure to do the specific lessons associated with the field trip activity. Be sure to bring field notebooks and keep a record of activities and observation.
Connection to Lessons: All
Take a hike through A.B. Williams Memorial Woods. With all the hard work and exploration you have done in the classroom this is a great time for reflection. There are plenty of trails to explore, many with interpretive signs. CMP Naturalists can help you plan your hike based on age, duration and physical fitness. Everyone who visits A.B. Williams Memorial Woods should take some of their time just to walk around and explore.
Moses Cleaveland Tree Inventory
Connection to Lessons: Maps and Moses Cleaveland Trees
At one time, 13 Moses Cleaveland Trees stood in the now named A.B. Williams Memorial Woods when they were first inventoried in 1946. However, many have died due to age, disease and weather. With a map in hand you will explore the forest and try to find any remaining Moses Cleaveland Trees. Despite the loss of trees, A.B. Williams Memorial Woods still has many impressive old growth trees (over 500 years old) in extraordinary condition. Students will identify, measure, and nominate some of the magnificent trees as replacement for those that were lost.
Spring Wildflowers and Phenology
Seasons: Spring (March-June)
Connection to Lessons:
Wildflowers & Phenology
The wildflower show in the forest is one of the most spectacular events in the annual forest cycle. A.B. Williams took detailed notes on the phenology of wildflower communities at A.B Williams Memorial Woods. Explore the forest and identify any species you can using field guides. CMP also has a “Tour of Wildflowers” Citizen Science project that you can participate in. They have a very useful pamphlet/field guide to help you with your identification. Following your survey, compare what you saw to the records of A.B. Williams and discuss what has changed.
Dingers Marsh Overlook Sights and Sounds
Connection to Lessons:
For this activity you will travel out to one of the two overlooks for some quiet time to observe and listen to the forest. A.B. Williams was a keen observer and took his time travelling through the forest, using all of his senses to understand what was going on in the forest. At the overlook, we will sit quietly, watch, listen and record what we see and hear.
CCC Shelter Overlook Reflections
Connection to Lessons:
This overlook was built in the 1930s and offers a great place for reflection. This location has been heavily defaced with carvings all over the wood beams; you can also find carvings in tree bark throughout the forest. The activity at the overlook gets students to think about conservation and preservation of historical and natural resources.
Season: Spring (April-August)
Connection to Lessons: Bird Nest Diagram, Maps and Moses Cleaveland Trees
A.B. Williams created the spot mapping method in the 1930s to map the distribution and abundance of breeding birds within a defined area. The methods are still used around the world today by scientists. For this activity students will choose a species (or set of species) to inventory at A.B. Williams Memorial Woods and compare their results to what A.B. Williams and his colleague Harold Wallin found in the 1930-50s.
Season: Spring-Fall (May-October)
Connection to Lessons:
Forest Community Game
A.B. Williams used a variety of methods for measuring the composition of the forest. From mapping every tree in the forest to counting seedlings, these methods combined to develop an understanding of the forest community and how it changes over time. For this activity students learn how to identify some common trees, measure, and map their locations using similar methods to the ones A.B. Williams used.
Once you have an idea of what activities you want to do, be sure to contact the naturalists at North Chagrin Reservation Nature Center (440-772-3370). They will be able to help you schedule a time and work out the details. They can also arrange to have a naturalist meet your class and spend some time getting you oriented in the forest.
Your class may qualify for a $150 bus voucher for schools in Cuyahoga County or Hinkley Township. Inquire with naturalists at North Chagrin Reservation Nature Center (440-772-3370).
There are restrooms on site, picnic areas and a large pavilion. Be sure to dress for the weather and come prepared with first aid kits and plenty of water. Many of the materials needed can be obtained through the Museum’s Educator Resource Center. Visit the ERC webpage here for more information.