Materials for Class Projects and Art Installations

For some classes, primarily those in the Studio Art department, students have asked for natural materials to complete their projects. These materials have included grass, sticks, and stones. If you are interested in requesting materials from the Arboretum for a project of your own please fill out the application for material use.

To inquire about an art project installation in the arboretum please use the application for art installation.

If your request is approved, please don’t forget to share photos of your project and an artist’s statement with us! We love seeing what students create, and with your permission would like to share your art with alumni and arboretum supporters.

Research and Group Use

Students and staff do research projects in the Arboretum. Learn more about research and class use permits.

Data Sets

The Arboretum has a number of different data sets that have been of use to students. A list of our data sets follow, with descriptions of each data set. If you would like access to any of these data sets for a class project, please contact the Arboretum Director, Nancy Braker, at 

  1. Prescribed Burn Records: This data set includes information about the history of prescribed burns in the Arboretum. This data set also includes two maps, one that details the management units of the Arboretum, and one that shows the planting units of the Arboretum.
  2. Spring Bird Count Survey Data: This data set is a record of birds in the Arboretum during peak spring migration activity. The survey is conducted in the morning by volunteers. The survey follows the same route of stops through the Arboretum each year with participants stopping at each location and counting in 2 minutes the number of individuals and species that they see and hear. This data set includes a detailed procedure, a map of all locations used, and data from 2000-2004, and 2008-present.
  3. Arboretum Bird Database: This database is a record of all bird species observed in the Arboretum. The data set has three parts: the bird list, a list of observers, and a list of rare bird sightings. Data have been recorded from 1970-present. The data that is compiled in this data set is not continuous, but is as complete and as accurate as we can make it. This data set is particularly useful for tracking general trends in species composition in the Arboretum.
  4. Grassland Breeding Birds Survey: The goal of this survey is to establish a record of Grassland breeding bird populations in the Arboretum. Data is collected during the summer to assess populations and breeding pairs in the Arboretum. When the survey was established at Carleton, it was intended as a way to assess the results of prairie restoration in the Arboretum. This data set includes data from 2005, and 2009-2013; a detailed procedure, and a map of stops used in the survey.
  5. Frog and Toad Survey: The Frog and Toad survey in the Arboretum is based on methodology for the same survey type designed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. A set of stops are designated, and during the course of one night researchers visit each site on foot and listen for frog and toad calls to assess what species are present, and the number of individuals calling. This data set includes a procedure, a map of stops, and data from 2009-2011, 2013 and 2015.
  6. Deer Hunt Data: Every year during winter break at Carleton College, the Arboretum hosts a bow hunt of white-tailed deer.  Permits are issued to local hunters, and they are asked to self report data about how often they hunt, what they see while they are out hunting, and if they shoot a deer, where they shot it and if it is male or female. The data set includes data on hunting success from 1998-present. The data from 1998-2006 are fairly limited, but due to a change in management and a desire for more data, the results from 2007- present are relatively robust.

Digital Archives

The digital archives are a collection of documents, maps, photographs, unpublished research, proposals, and many other documents relating to the history of the Arboretum, and its use as a recreational and research space. The collection is intended to provide background information to students and staff, and to provide a starting place when assessing what research has been done in the Arboretum, and what might be interesting to follow up on or to study in a new research project.

Physical Collections

  • Skulls: The Arb Office houses over 100 skulls and skull fragments of everything from mice to black bears. These items have been used in the past as subjects for Observational Drawing classes.
  • Nests: The Arb Office is home to a large collection of bird nests. Many have been collected after the nesting season, but others have eggs associated with them. All nests are labeled by species.
  • Herbarium: The herbarium is a collection of pressed plants that represent just about everything that lives in and around the Arboretum. This collection is incredibly fragile, so is not open to the public. Learn more at the herbarium page.

 If you are interested in accessing any of these collections, please contact Arb Director, Nancy Braker at

What Lives in the Arboretum

Designing a research project or curious about what all live in the Arboretum? Find something and want to identify what it is? Check the lists of the flora and fauna present in the Arboretum, and keys to help you identify mystery flora and fauna!

Let Us Know About Your Events

If you are interested in using the Arboretum as the setting for a film or dance project or any performance/project/event that will last more than a day or will involve a group of people, please let us know about it using the Arboretum Student Use form! We are gathering data on student uses of the Arboretum, and we can help you plan your activity so that it does not conflict with the activities of others. That way all users can get the maximum benefit from the space provided by the Arboretum.