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The Leaf Detective & Dr. Meg Lowman

Tanglewood would like to inspire Southern Tier students to climb higher and love nature by reading about the adventures of Elmira’s own Dr. Meg Lowman. 

Who is Dr. Meg Lowman? 

She is an author, explorer, scientist, arbornaut (translation: treetop explorer!), mom, and change-agent for conservation.

Meg grew up in Elmira, climbing trees and collecting wildflowers. After an inspirational 2nd place win at the New York State Science Fair, the only girl there, Meg was encouraged to keep studying science. She is now famous across the world for her pioneering tree canopy studies!  Meg invented ways to explore this mysterious part of our world, using harnesses and homemade slingshots, canopy walkways, and even hot air balloons. She’s discovered new species and made it her life’s work to protect Earth’s forests, from the Amazon to the tiny fragmented church forests in Ethiopia.  

Her research on forest conservation takes her to many countries that have relatively little scientific infrastructure, where she can make a difference and mentor girls at every opportunity. She applies her science to create sustainability practices both locally and globally; one of her signature projects is designing canopy walkways to encourage ecotourism for local income instead of logging. 

Tanglewood's partnership with Canopy Meg

Tanglewood Nature Center and Dr. Lowman have a long-standing friendship. Since 2008, the Nature Center offers a summer science camp for at-risk girls aged 9-12 who have shown an interest in science and are nominated by teachers or other mentors. On the last day of Treetops Camp, the girls climb up into our forest canopy with harnesses and ropes – and they meet Canopy Meg!

The Leaf Detective Initiative

National Geographic calls her the “real-life Lorax” and Jane Goodall calls her “a true hero and courageous explorer” but we hope that local students will also think of her as “Meg from Elmira” and see themselves on the pages of this beautifully illustrated book. The Leaf Detective includes lushly detailed illustrations by Jana Christy, bringing to life Meg’s love for nature. Meg’s journey from a shy student in class to becoming a voice for the rainforests will inspire your students to persevere through their own challenges.

Tanglewood’s goal is to provide at least one copy of The Leaf Detective for every elementary school library within the GST BOCES district so that our local students can be inspired by Meg’s adventures from Elmira to Australia to the Amazon and beyond. We know that our community has strong, smart, and selfless kids. We’d like for them to be able to connect with Meg’s story, and pursue their own passions as they grow up. 

Resources for educators: 

Meg Lowman sat down for a virtual talk with Heather Lang, the author of “The Leaf Detective: How Margaret Lowman Uncovered Secrets in the Rainforest”

Meg's website

The TREE Foundation website

Nature Center and Museum location:
443 Coleman Avenue Elmira NY 14903

Phone: (607) 732-6060

Nature Center and Museum hours: OPEN Tuesday-Friday, 9am-4pm, and Saturday 10am-4pm. CLOSED Sunday-Monday. Trails are open dawn to dusk year-round.

Admission to the Nature Center and Museum is FREE to all. Please consider becoming a member of Tanglewood!

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