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Conservation students perform ecological restoration on campus

September 28, 2018

Imagine a class project that provides shelter for deer and foxes, prevents soil erosion, and reduces air pollution.

One Indiana University Kokomo class gives its students the opportunity to have a positive impact on the environment, by studying conservation issues and choosing one problem to solve.

Four groups of students in the environmental conservation class taught by Leda Casey, senior lecturer of geology, researched and completed projects, which they will present from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.  Monday, October 8, in the Hunt Hall Atrium.

On a recent sunny afternoon, eight students donned boots and gloves, and picked up their shovels, to tear out invasive plant species including Canada thistle, dandelions, and crabgrass along the stream south of the campus parking garage. Four hours later, they had 12 large yard bags full of weeds, and had dug six holes to plant trees and native flowers.

 “One of the main goals was to keep it as native to Indiana as possible, and remove what doesn’t belong there,” said Sasha Davis, from Peru. “If you don’t have a functional ecosystem, you don’t have the right support for all species in the area, and that ends up destroying the environment.”

They also had to consider what would be easy to maintain in the future, said Lindsey Thomas, from Tipton. They chose plants and trees that will do well in abundant water, because of the chance of the creek flooding.

 “Most of these invasive species were taking moisture and nutrients out of the soil while serving very little purpose,” she said. “With their removal, we were able to plant maple trees, redbud trees, and black eyed Susan flowers, which are contributing to the health of the soil by maintaining the nutrient and moisture levels, and reducing the chance of soil erosion.”

 While their project is beautifying campus, it also provides a space that can be used by sciences classes, Davis said.

 “It gives back to anyone who uses the space, whether it’s for visual enjoyment of nature, or for education,” she said. “It will be fun to come back in a few years and see it continuing to flourish. We want it to be a project where the benefits continue year after year.”

Casey is proud of the results of all of the projects for the environmental conservation class, and said they’ve all been innovating and working hard, while learning the importance of maintaining green corridors in communities, and the value of preserving native species.

“I could tell by the smiles on their faces that they also learned that giving back is enjoyable,” she said. “A couple of them remarked that one day they would bring their children back to campus to see the trees they planted during their college years. The act of sharing their project with their children and others will no doubt teach future generations the value and joy that service brings, not only to the community and environment, but to oneself.”

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

Last updated: 09/28/2018