The Morris Arboretum has suffered from lack of student recognition in the past but is now seeing a spike in visits from Penn students.

Credit: Will Baskin-Gerwitz / The Daily Pennsylvanian

Though the leaves are falling, student attendance at the Morris Arboretum is going up.

“Steadily over the past three years, we’ve seen Penn student attendance skyrocket. Our goal has been to increase awareness on campus and get the brand out,” Miriam Von Essen, director of Penn Outreach for the Arboretum, said. Currently, the Arboretum pulls about 8 percent of the student body or 1,800 annually for a visit, but Von Essen would like to see that number jump to 15 percent by 2018.

One of the reasons for the increased attendance from Penn students has been a shuttle program from Penn’s campus to the Arboretum. The facility applied for and won a grant from the Penn Green Fund in early 2010, which allowed them to run several bus trips between campus and the park from April 2010 to April 2012.

“They were very successful, and we learned that students were very interested in visiting the Arboretum,” Von Essen said.

Although the grant money has been used up, the park has been able to secure additional funding to run the shuttle service at times of peak demand. The Fall Festival, the springtime Cherry Blossom Festival and a holiday concert hosting the Penn Glee Club are some of the events that buses run for, though other shuttles are available too.

These shuttles are available to student groups on an individual basis by reaching out to the Arboretum.

The Arboretum has planned several events and programs designed to attract students who may have never even heard of the park.

One such event is this Saturday’s Fallapalooza, hosted by Ourboretum, a Management 100 group that paired with the Arboretum for their semester-long project.

The group’s plan is to bus students to the Arboretum in the morning and host a scavenger hunt, photo contest and “relaxation station,” according to Ourboretum group member and Wharton freshman Maddy Covington.

“We’re hoping [the event] will … get many more students to go to Morris,” Covington said in an email.

Director of Marketing Susan Crane said that though the fall is always a high attendance period for the Arboretum, this year, things have been even busier than past years.

At the annual Fall Festival held earlier this month, planners decided to increase the event to two days to deal with increased attendance. “We had over 4,000 people here making scarecrows, pasting apples, and doing all kinds of activities,” Crane said.

With membership at its highest point and a greater number of Penn students visiting, Crane added “it’s definitely a good time for the Arboretum.”

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