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Wellness: James G. Kaskey Memorial Park, The Biopond and Biology Greenhouses

Biopond @ James G. Kaskey Memorial Park

The James G. Kaskey Memorial Park is a fitting tribute to the first day of Spring, an unassuming nature oasis tucked away within Penn’s urban campus.

“This green space which we call today the James G. Kaskey Memorial Park, or BioPond, was created during the last decade of the nineteenth century, opening as a research garden in 1897. Although the idea for a garden on University of Pennsylvania campus was first presented by Dr. J.T. Rothrock, then chair of the Department of Botany, it was Professor of Botany, Dr. John M. MacFarlane who finally convinced the Biological Department of the special advantages to be gained by reclaiming the waste ground which surrounded the department. Although the area was a scant five acres, generally considered far too small a space for a Botanical Garden, Professor MacFarlane did succeed in transforming waste hills and hollows of sand and gravel into a garden which fulfilled not only the botanical research needs of members of the department, but was also a graceful addition to the University landscape” (Penn Arts & Sciences).

Over the years, it has been renovated (dredged, relined and realigned) for maintenance and sustainability; however, it has lost some of its original acreage due to campus development around it. Nonetheless, it still stands today as a campus treasure.

If you like the outdoors, there are benches and a few picnic tables where you can take in the sun and read/study. I prefer to go for a nice walk when I need a break from my work, and especially pack my lunch there where I can eat al fresco. You will delight in some of the live species that inhabit the pond, such as fish and turtles, if you observe carefully. Now is the best time to enjoy it, before it gets too hot to be outside in the Summer. But crisp Fall-Winter walks are also unexpectedly enjoyable.

As you set out to walk and meander through the paths, cross over bridges or perch on a bench upon which to find a point of rest, consider an analogy to your academic journey:

  • Which paths have your consciously and unconsciously taken thus far?
    • What have they revealed?
    • What have you learned?
  • What experiences, wins and apparent defeats have served as bridges to where you have arrived or hope to arrive?
    • Who or what has kept you connected and/or motivated?
    • What connections have you made?
    • How have you made sense of your experiences?
  • Where have you found rest and support?
    • What is the value of pause and reflection?
    • How do we plan for and schedule rest points in our schedule, in our paths?
    • How will you support others?

Next time you take a study break or seek an outdoors green space for studying, consider the opportunities that the Kaskey Memorial Park, including the biopond and greenhouses, offer for self-reflection, self-assessment, self-nurture and growth.

By Staff Writer: Min Derry, Learning Fellow

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