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Professors. Dendrology, Biology, Ecology
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Dr. Dwight Smith

Professor of Biology
West Indies College
Mandevillel, Jamaica
drsmith@toj.com


Dr. Smith took the course in June-July, 1996. Some months later he wrote a letter to Dr. Humberto Jimenez Saa, including the following paragraph: "I can not tell you enough how much I gained by taking class this summer. I have been able to key dozens of plants since returning to Jamaica. Currently I am teaching an ecology class and for lab I am having the students identify plants using the matrix you helped us make there plus Adam´s Flowering Plants of Jamaica. Our species are mostly different but the families and genera are mostly the same. I am making ….."
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Dra. Virginia Saenz D'Angelo
Av Ppal Sebucan Ed Jardines de Sebucan apto 5D
Caracas
Venezuela
Tel. 582 2845363
vsanzd@ethron.net


Virgina is a Biologist.  When she attended the course in June-July 2001 she was finishing her Doctoral studies in Venezuela. One year later, in June 2002, she wrote the following (see English translation below):

” ……La metodología empleada en el curso es eficiente y permite un aprendizaje rápido; en solo dos semanas se puede llegar a identificar importantes familias neotropicales, incluso personas sin muchos conocimientos de botánica. Lo que me parece  mas importante es que el curso enseña a reconocer cuales son las
características generales que hay que analizar para poder identificar a
las familias, lo que permite que se utilice en varios ambientes y en
varias localidades geográficas…. “

”…. Al terminar el curso creo que en mi caso era posible identificar correctamente entre el 70 y 80% de las familias de plantas… “
“ ……Una de las fortalezas del curso es la gran cantidad de ejemplos
prácticos que incluye, donde el estudiante tiene posibilidad de
manipular directamente gran variedad de especies de muchas familias, en
distintos ambientes….”

 

…. The methodology used in the course is efficient and allows a fast learning. In only two weeks it is possible to identify important neotropical families; this is possible also for  people without a sound knowledge of botany. What seems more important to me is that the course teaches to recognize which are the important characteristics to be used to identify the families. This allows us to use the method in several climatic environments and in several geographic localities…. “

… After finishing the course, I feel that in my case I was prepared  to identify correctly between 70% and 80% of the families of plants…

...... One of the strengths of the course is the great amount of practical examples
that it includes….


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Dr. Ed Jensen
Professor (Dendrology)
College of Forestry
Oregon State University
Corvalis, OR 97331
USA
ed.jensen@orst.edu
Fax (+1-541) 737-3049


Dr. Jensen said: " When I decided to take this course, I was looking especially for an introduction, a way of getting into trees in tropical regions, and I found the course to be very effective, along those lines, especially developing the matrix, and using the keys; it was a good way to start, to become familiar with the different families and genera and, in some cases, species of tropical forest". "...It is hard for me to imagine traveling through tropical forests without having a course like this ...".

"...I think that the strategy of moving around the country and moving to different forest types is extremely productive, I like the idea of spending a significant amount of time out in the field looking at the entire plant and looking at all the characteristics you could see, but I also find extremely effective to spend a significant amount of time in the "classroom", so to speak, and we can look at the characteristics with great detail and share information and develop our notes effectively. I think that's a good effective teaching strategy. In general, logistics had gone well, you need it to be flexible for a variety of reasons, and you have done a good job with that".

........." I would certainly recommend it to graduate students or professors who are interested in doing international work... or even a graduate experience if they were going to spend time in tropical forests. I think it will be very difficult to acquire the knowledge, that we have acquired, on our own. I think it would take a very long time to do that...".

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Biol. Zoraida Calle Díaz
Professor (Dendrology)
Universidad del Valle
Cali, Valle                                       
Colombia                                         
Tel: 57 2 893 5492
e-mail: zoraida@cipav.org.co


Zoraida is a Biologist. She attended the Dendrology course in 1999. Five years later, in July 2004, she send me a very good synthesis of the way our course allows the students to make progresses by their own after going back to their countries: (See English translation below):

“El curso de Dendrología Tropical despierta la curiosidad por la identidad de las plantas y le permite al botánico aficionado adentrarse en el mundo fascinante de la taxonomía y sistemática. Al observar, analizar, comparar y dibujar especies de la misma familia botánica en diferentes zonas de vida y con diferentes hábitos de crecimiento, el alumno comienza a identificar patrones que se repiten y variaciones sobre un mismo tema evolutivo. Los estudiantes se familiarizan con especies de diferentes familias en su hábitat natural y tiene la posibilidad de tocarlas, oler sus hojas y exudados y elaborar su propia síntesis de los detalles que en el futuro le permitirán reconocer a otros miembros de la misma familia en ecosistemas diferentes…. ”

“ The course of Tropical Dendrology wakes up the curiosity to identity the plants and allows the amateur botanist to enter in the fascinating world of plant taxonomy and systematics. When observing, analyzing, comparing and making draws of species of the same botanical family, having different growth forms and being found in different Life Zones, the student begins to identify patterns that repeat themselves and variations on the same evolutionary subject. The student becomes familiar with species of different families in their natural habitat and has the possibility of touching them, of smelling their leaves and exudates and of elaborating their own synthesis of the details that in the future will allow him to recognize other members of the same family in different ecosystems…. ”

 

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Prof. Jean Francois BEAUVAIS

71 Grand Rue
La Rochefoucaauld
FRANCE
Jean Francois works as "Professeur de Sciences Naturelles" in France. He has been practicing botany for about 15 years in temperate and mediterranean Europe. He took the course in 1996 and, in August 1997, he wrote a letter to Dr. Humberto Jiménez Saa, including the following paragraph (See English translation below): "En ce que concerne mon opinion actuelle sur le cours de Dendrology, elle reste tres positive. …. Pour revenir a la matrice, cela me parait tres pedagogique pour un integration progressive des connaissances et aussi parce qu'elle permet au stagiaire de s'appropier le systeme dans son propre mental, a son rythme…".
Jean Francois: "My opinion on the Dendrology course is still very much positive …. I found that the matrix is a very useful (pedagogical) device to progressively integrate knowledge. The student assimilates the system following his/her own rhythm ..."

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Prof. Vera Lex Engel

Departamento de Ciencias Florestais
UNRPS-Campus Botucatu
Botucatu-SP
Brasil
FAX: (55)-149-21348
e-mail: veralex@fca.unesp.br

Vera received a fellowship from the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), and was finishing her Ph. D. studies in Forest Ecology. She teaches Dendrology in Brasil. Speaking in Portuguese, she declared (see English translation below): "Meu interesse em vir a este curso foi principalmente pelo seu aspecto pedagógico..... Já havia lido algumas publicaçoes do Dr. Jiménez Saa e me interesei muito pela maneira em que ele ensina dendrologia ..."

"Eu aprendi dendrologia conhecendo especies e daí, acumulando conhecimento de especies e géneros, pude ter uma idea de familia; quando, na verdade, o caminho tem que ser justamente o inverso... ". " ... Sob características vegetativas dos géneros e das familias, eu tinha um pouco de conhecimento mais nao estava organizado na minha cabeça. Acho que isso é o mais importante do método; a gente consegue organizar as ideas na cabeça, colocar em gavetas e depois consegue abrir as gavetas no momento certo pra trabalhar"...."

"O curso foi muito bem organizado; tudo pensado nos seus mínimos detalhes. Ficamos em alojamentos muito bons, muito confortáveis, nosso transporte também foi bastante eficiente....."

"....Eu pretendo recomendá-lo a outras pessoas do meu pais. O curso é muito interessante porque pessoas de cualquer nível de conhecimento podem fazer e aproveitar da mesma maneira. Convivemos por exemplo, neste grupo com pessoas que nao tinham experiência em dendrologia nem conhecimento botánico, e no meu caso, que já tenho uma experiência de quase 10 anos trabalhando com dendrologia, aprovetei igualmente o curso e me enriqueceu muito em termos de conhecimento. ".

Vera Engel: I came to take this course maily because I wanted to know the methodology. I kew some of the publications by Dr. Humberto Jiménez and I was curious about his methods to teach dendrology.

I had learned dendrology starting with species; then, observing species and genera, I got an idea of the families. Now I know that we should follow the opposite direction. I feel that this method of teaching dendrology allows people to organize her ideas in her head; it is like stablishing drawers to keep knowledge and, after that, people will open such drawers whenever she needs to.

The course was well organized; everything was ordered. We passed in good hotels, and transport was efficient..

I will recommend this course in Brazil. Persons with different levels of knowledge may equally take advantage of this course. For instance, there were people without any experience in dendrology and people like me with almost 10 years of experience; and I equally took advantge of the course.


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Dr. Charles F. Quibell
(Professor of Biology)
Dpt. of Biology
Sonoma State University
Rohnert Park, CA 94928
USA
quibell@sonoma.edu


Dr. Quibell is now retired. When he took the course he said: "This is my first intensive tropical experience"....."I came actually for some practical knowledge in being able to recognize woody trees of the tropics, particularly those that have good wood for furniture, ....". ".....Sometimes it seems that we work very hard, six days a week, ten hours a day, we get out money's worth, in a very real sense,... ".

"So the course is expanding my horizons, in a very constructive and yet in a very rewarding way. .... We get to know each other all very well, very quickly which I have found in my many years of teaching is a very important thing in a class, to have a camaraderie and a generally helpful environment."

".....I think being in the field with the plants is a much better way to learn about plants than the static laboratory with things brought in and pictures flashed on the wall and so forth. ... Being able to get out and smell them and taste them and touch them and walk among them is extremely important. ... and I think we all have become as a family, to learn together and that's, I think one of the essential strong points of the course design. Live together, work together and profit from our own strengths and interests".

 

..... "This course is best described as intensive, very constructive, its pedagogy is very fine tuned and Dr. Jimenez, the course manager, sticks to it very, very diligently. At first it seems a little frustrating but very soon you understand that his method works and you begin to see patterns that you hadn't seen before, that the patterns are different that you expect, on times but are very reassuring once you begin to see them. This was in a very short period of time, you can get a basic structure of understanding dendrology in the tropics, and is very, very useful".

" I'll recommend it to my students, particularly those who are interested, as many more students are now in tropical biology, particularly tropical ecology. I'll recommend it to some of my colleagues, specially those who are younger or haven't yet had a tropical training who would profit a great deal over their careers so, having this as another perspective. It's got to be one of the best ways to get your foot in the door into the tropics, in a very short period of time".

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Dr. Duane Houck
3827 Prospect Church Rd.
Ooltewah TN 37363
USA
(423) 396 2615/
fax: (423) 238 3287


Dr. Houck used to teach biology and now he is retired. He declared:"The course was offered in a way that a person with botanical background and one that did not had a background, everybody one could benefit."

"When I first arrived I thought there might be a lot of primitive camping involved and I've been happily surprised over the convenience lodging and the good meals that are always available. It's been very satisfactory and helps us in using all our energy in concentrating in the subject matter that we came down here to understand more fully.

"All of the teachers have been very gracious and kind, tending to all we need and also directing us to the very interesting things that we are observing every day, calling our attention to things of importance and giving full explanations, helping us to understand and put it all on perspective".

"I certainly recommend this course as a background for any young teacher in botany, ... to understand the vegetation of the tropics, to compare with the temperate region; and -of course- to anybody who does have the time, as a retired person, this is an excellent way to continue learning".

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Kunfang Cao, Prof. Ph. D.
Chairman, the Research Center for Conservation Biology
Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden
Chinese Academy of Sciences
Kunming office: 88 Xuefu Road, Kunming 650223
China
caokf@xtbg.ac.cn;    kfcao@public.km.yn.cn
www.xtbg.ac.cn

 


Dr. Cao is a Plant Physiologist working for a Botanical Garden located in  southern China. He attended the Dendrology course in July 2003.  A year later, in September 2004, he wrote:  

Dear Humberto:

”The tropical dendrology course that I attended in the summer in 2003 in Costa Rica is really helpful for my research work. The matrix to identify plant families and genera works well in our flora here in the tropical region of China, as most families and genera here are the same as those in Costa Rica. “

“I would like to apply for a grant to invite you to give a tropical dendrology course to our students and researchers in China. The International Tropical Timber Organization seems to be interested in financially supporting this course to be held in China.”.

 

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HUMBERTO JIMENEZ SAA
DERECHOS RESERVADOS 2008