April 2018 Tree Ambassador
Miguel Diaz, Plant Production Assistant
What is your favorite season at the Arboretum and why?
Mike began his employment in July and it was hot—very hot! While everything at the Arboretum was still beautiful, when fall came, the trees began to change and the temperature became more comfortable, making fall his favorite season thus far. Mike has been looking forward to spring, but given the chilly temperatures we’ve experienced lately, spring has been elusive.
What is the best part of your job?
There are actually two distinct elements that Mike enjoys in his role as a plant production assistant. The physical aspect of his position finds him always moving, lifting, or carrying items, keeping him in shape. The second element, which he enjoys just as much as the physical element, is the ability to continuously learn. Mike’s supervisors and colleagues are very generous in sharing their knowledge; they take the time to teach him and others. Even when Mike is tasked with a lengthy watering project, he will take the opportunity to look up the taxonomic names and related information about the plants he is watering to expand his plant knowledge.
Do you have a favorite location on the grounds or a favorite tree?
Behind the Tree Breeding Nursery between P7 and P8 is a large collection of established oak trees from the United States, Eastern Asia, Russia and Europe. Mike enjoys seeing how they’ve evolved over time, and being able to compare them with the younger trees in the nursery and their different stages of growth.
What do you want our visitors to know about The Morton Arboretum and our mission?
The Arboretum is a living environment full of learning opportunities, not just a pretty park. As a whole, the Arboretum is very laid-back and it’s really up to each visitor to determine how much they want to get out of their visit and how much they want to learn. We are all about the trees.
What is an insider tip that you’d like to share with visitors?
Get off the beaten path. Get out and walk the trails! If you are just taking in the Arboretum from a car, there is a lot that you can miss. Oh, and don’t pet the black and white “cats”!
Share an interesting fun fact about you:
Mike was an executive in corporate Human Resources, before joining the Arboretum and wishes he had made the transition sooner! He explored biology as a student before deciding to study psychology, and he is truly enjoying what he does and going back to his roots. His favorite part of HR was the training and development aspect, watching people grow and advance, just as he now watches plants grow and advance in Plant Production. Both respond well to a combination of nurturing and stress to become stronger and grow. Mike enjoys his three-days-a-week schedule, which enables him to spend time with his three grandchildren.