University of Kentucky researchers are looking for Lexingtonians for a six-week research pilot project about improving their health while gaining a greater awareness of their natural environment.
“Healthy Trees-Healthy People” will have participants walking in two Lexington parks and assessing the health of selected trees. Participants will complete a daily log of their physical activity and tree health observations on designated trails at either Kirklevington Park or Harrods Hill Park. The routes are just under a half-mile and one mile.
Leading the project are Lynne Rieske-Kinney, UK professor of forest entomology, and Kelly Webber, UK associate professor in the Department of Dietetics and Human Nutrition.
“We’re training citizen scientists in pest and disease detection while asking them to exercise in nature to improve their health,” Rieske-Kinney said. “We are showing them what a healthy tree looks like, so when they see something that’s not normal, they contact their local extension office.”
Participants will learn to identify 15 tree species, evaluate tree health and learn about exotic and native pest threats. The researchers are also looking for positive health outcomes in the participants, such as lower blood pressure and reduced stress.
Research assistants will lead walking tours at both parks for those who do not want to walk alone.