Monday, December 7, 2009

Mead Wildlife Area - Volunteer Day 2

I canceled two class Friday of last week and took one of them, my environmental economics class, to Mead Wildlife Area again to volunteer. I absolutely loved the day outside at the Mead, having found a new favorite location to bird and get outside.

While I admit that I partially enjoyed the day getting out of the normal classroom and being outside, the joy I experienced was not superficial as a result of a day off. Three students out of five and myself joined two wildlife technicians out in the field with shears cutting buckthorn and applying herbicide on the stumps. We worked hard at identifying the buckthorn, which was a challenge since the leaves and berries recently fell off. When in doubt we cut it down, better safe than sorry.

I hope that this service learning project will make an impact on the students. With any luck this experience will instill the value of volunteering, environmental stewardship, and land ethics. I will finish the class project next semester with a survey, but this setback should have little if no effect on the pedagogical goal of the project.

After volunteering in the morning and lunch a student and myself jumped at the chance of a tour of a handful of managed flowages on the property. I could not contain myself and asked which ones would be best for Bitterns and Rails. We had no luck at finding a Rough-legged Hawk, but they should be around soon with migration.

Growing up with many outdoor experiences and memories I now realize how little I actually know about nature, being previously content with the peace of mind experience of being outside. Having spent two days with four different wildlife technicians, the DNR educational facilitator and DNR Mead WA supervisor I am reminded of our different knowledge specialities and my true lack of knowledge when it comes to nature. It is truly refreshing to have a conversation with someone where the enthusiasm and love of the subject mater is evident in almost every sentence. Thanks Bill!

With the recent involvement I was invited to join the Board of Directors for the Friends of the Mead, a volunteer organization that strives to raise funds for capital improvements at the Mead WA. I am eagerly looking forward to this volunteer opportunity, but cautious towards a large time commitment!

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