Page 1

Natural Resources and Environmental Science

BIANNUAL NEWSLETTER

Words of Wisdom from Wendell Berry Study Abroad Ecuador and Mexico NRES Involvment in Sustainability Initiatives

FALL 2017 VOLUME 8 ISSUE 1


FROM THE CHAIR

LETTER FROM THE CHAIR

CONTENTS:

Words From Wendell Berry 3 Alumni Highlight: Mariah Lewis 4 Alumni Highlight: Jason Fibel 5 NRES Summer Camp: Costa Rica 6 NRES Summer Camp: Robinson Forest 7 Persistence Personified: Adrianne Rogers 8 Capstone: Jack Schieffer 9 Course Highlight: LA 531 10 Course Highlight: NRE 390 11 Study Abroad: Nicole Funk 12 Study Abroad: Rose Yeley & David Ehlert 13 NRES in the SSC 14 KSEC: Cameron Baller 15 Cover: NRES sticker on a water bottle in front of Memorial Hall, Photo by Quinn Towery Above: Red Maple tree in fall colors beside T.P. Cooper Building, Photo by Quinn Towery

Welcome to the Fall 2017 NRES newsletter. I am so proud of all of our NRES students and their accomplishments, not simply as defined by academics but in all the myriad ways our students are successful in their lives. The newsletter itself is a great way to highlight the successes of our students, though its pages are far too short to do more than scratch the surface of what our students, and alumni, are up to. Indeed, as our student body grows (and this year marks the largest in history), so too does the range of interests of our students. This issue highlights the many ways our students are engaged outside the classroom, from study abroad to working on sustainability issues on campus, in Kentucky, and elsewhere. We see our students being successful in so many different ways, each finding their own path at UK, and afterwards. We are very excited to include in this issue a letter written by Wendell Berry to former NRES newsletter editor Grace Coy (’17), in response to a letter she wrote asking him if he would send a statement to students in an interdisciplinary environmental major with advice as to how he would define success. If you have news you would like to see included in the newsletter, or other comments or information, please email me at marthur@uky.edu. We aim to keep you informed of our activities and engaged in the success of our current students and alumni.

Dr. Mary Arthur

2 NRES Newsletter


WORDS OF WISDOM

WORDS FROM WENDELL BERRY BY HANNAH MOORE We are honored to publish this letter of advice from Kentucky author and activist Wendell Berry. Through his many writings, his thought and guidance have continually informed our program and the University as a whole, and his dedication to education, community, and the Commonwealth of Kentucky is impossible to overstate. We are further privileged to provide an image of Wendell Berry in this newsletter courtesy of local artist Guy Mendes. A student and peer of Mr. Berry’s, Guy has consistently produced a record of Kentucky life through photography that remains unparalleled. These artists allow us access to moments that while past, are still more pertinent and present than ever.

We’d also like to thank former NRES student assistant Grace Coy for contacting Mr. Berry and formulating the following questions (in italics) about his advice for the experiences and successes of our students.

What advice do you have for students, particularly those coming from rural or small community backgrounds, who are coping with the transition to a dominantly urban university like UK? My advice “for students with rural backgrounds coping with the transition to an urban university” is the same advice I would have for any student in that situation: If you need help, don’t hesitate to ask your professors to help you. In my years as a teacher, I was surprised at the apparent reluctance of

Above: Wendell Berry in front of a woodpile. Photo by Guy Mendes

students to go to their teachers when they needed help. Teaching is the primary reason for a university to exist. Teachers owe help to their students. Students therefore should insist upon getting the help they need. If their teachers are not helpful, then they should go, taking their parents with them if possible, to complain to the head of the department or the dean of the college. Such asking for help is a part of the work and one of the duties of being a student. If students would insist on getting the help from their professors that the professors owe to them, the university would be very much improved. (Continued on page 8)

FALL 2017 3


ALUMNI HIGHLIGHT

A PATHWAY TO TEACHING WITH MARIAH LEWIS BY MADELEINE WAMSLEY For NRES students looking to apply their degree to teaching, Mariah Lewis’s unique pathway and successes may serve as a guide for charting their own path to success in teaching. Mariah didn’t always know she wanted to be a teacher. When she entered the NRES program, she originally thought that she would like to work in sea turtle conservation. It was through opportunities to work as a teaching assistant with her NRES professors that she discovered how much she enjoyed being in front of a classroom and helping students. When Mariah realized she wanted to pursue a career as an educator as a senior, she saw the Teach for America program as a perfect opportunity for her to gain first-hand experience as a science teacher right after graduation. Applying for Teach for America (TFA) was a long and selective process, and Mariah credits the NRES program for preparing her well for success in the process, and for being a teacher with TFA. While she was an undergraduate, Mariah strived to find solutions to the problems facing her communities by working to create community gardens in food deserts and developing programming to teach students and staff in sustainability-focused initiatives. She brought the same problem-solving skills she honed throughout her years as an NRES student to teaching her students in Chicago. Not only did the NRES program give Mariah the background in science to succeed as a Below: Mariah Lewis with students

chemistry and biology teacher in the TFA program, the professors in the NRES program taught Mariah how an instructor’s love and enthusiasm for a subject could transform a classroom. By teaching science with the same passion her own professors modelled, she is able to foster a love of science in the students who enter her classroom. Mariah just finished her TFA assignment this year, and considers her assignment to have been a lifechanging opportunity to go back to her hometown and work to rebuild communities in need. Mariah has started a full-time teaching position at Rowe Middle School teaching science to 8th graders, and is applying to PhD programs in the field of Human Development and Social Policy with an emphasis in Urban Education to start next fall. Mariah remains focused on finding solutions to the problems she encounters, and hopes to eventually work on tackling some of the systemic problems she sees in our education system. As for her advice to NRES students, Mariah encourages all students to not “put yourself in a box; whatever you’re interested in pursuing, find a way to craft your future the way you want it to be crafted.”

4 NRES Newsletter

Above: Mariah Lewis at McConnell Springs Below: Mariah Lewis graduating from UK


ALUMNI HIGHLIGHT

PRESERVING THE GREAT BASIN WITH JASON FIBEL BY QUINN TOWERY While in the NRES program, Jason Fibel (’15) became very interested in insect-plant relationships, and more generally, in environmental conservation. To pursue these interests, Jason worked as a student technician in the UK Department of Entomology. He worked with Dr. Daniel Potter, conducting research on how insects, specifically caterpillars, decided which cover crops were more favorable to eat. During his internship at Raven Run Nature Sanctuary in Fayette County, Jason created a butterfly garden as an independent project.

native invasive species called cheat grass has invaded the area; a highly flammable grass, it is causing larger and more frequent wild fires. The seeds collected by Jason are sent to BLM seed banks and used in postfire rehabilitation. This allows native plants to re-establish on the landscape, lowering the risk of future fire.

Jason knew that he needed some time after graduation to figure out what direction he wanted his career to go in, so he took some time to travel, work at an outdoor store, and look for opportunities that resonated with his interests. In this time, Jason traveled to Israel to experience new cultures, and visited family members in the US whom he had not seen in a long time. Jason highly recommends broadening horizons by traveling and experiencing new cultures.

Long trips into the mountains, camping under the stars, and weekend trips to Lake Tahoe are all perks of the job, but long term conservation of the Great Basin region is what interests Jason the most about his post-graduation internship, along with a foot in the door in the field of plant conservation. In the future, he would like to find a permanent position which incorporates his insect knowledge with the native plant conservation he has grown to love. Jason highly recommends internships, seasonal, and temporary positions as a way of getting your foot in the door to a career. Seasonal positions allow you to make connections while building new field skills and experience in new and different ecosystems.

Jason’s position is through the Chicago Botanic Garden, which works with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to put together teams to work on various projects. For his project, Jason has been sent to BLM land in the Great Basin of the Sierra Nevada Mountains to collect native plant seed. His team focuses on collecting seeds of native rushes, grasses, and sedges. A non-

In his time at UK, Jason says the classes which interested him most were Rob Paratley’s dendrology and plant taxonomy classes. By pursuing what interested him in college, Jason landed this interesting and exciting position. Jason said NRES helped him by exposing him to a multitude of environmental topics. Although Jason would like to focus mostly on insects,

Above: Waterfall in the Desatoya Mountains.

Above: Rangeland fire in the Great Basin

his knowledge of plants, provided by the NRES program, has allowed him to land a job which could potentially lead to a career in insect-plant relationships.

Above: Jason Fibel in the Negev Desert Below: One of Jason’s many campsites

FALL 2017

5


SUMMER CAMP

MOUNTAINS TO COAST: FIELD STUDIES IN COSTA RICA BY HANNAH MOORE One of the two required NRES summer field programs is a two week trip to Costa Rica designed to provide valuable experiential learning through immersion. Students who choose to participate in the Costa Rica program are exposed to a wide range of ecosystems and are able to examine different aspects of conservation and preservation efforts in a country recognized as a world leader in conservation biology.

and doing that improved water quality, promoted biodiversity, provided habitat, and acted as a buffer between agricultural fields.” Dan’s favorite destination of the trip, however, was La Selva Biological Station, a protected area of lowland tropical rainforest primarily used for research: “It was nice to get a feel for a place like La Selva with such a history of focus on research, and to see people really studying different aspects of the rainforest.”

One theme of the Costa Rica program is agriculture; students are exposed to both large-scale commercial crop production and small-scale organic and sustainable farming practices. Visiting agricultural operations on both ends of the spectrum provides insights into their different economic and ecological roles and encourages students to think critically about the issues involved with each. Hattie Nunley, a junior in the NRES program, appreciated the opportunity to see first-hand many different agricultural strategies being employed in Costa Rica, including visits to a commercial banana plantation and an organic coffee farm in Monteverde. The coffee farm, operated by an association of twelve families, is dedicated to sustainable production and education. With a focus in environmental policy and global sustainable food systems and a minor in sustainable agriculture, Hattie especially appreciated this portion of the course. “It was really great to see actual sustainable production; to see the principles of sustainability put into action. The families involved were really committed to that philosophy, and you could see by the way it was applied that the farm was much more than an economic venture.”

Regarding the group of students who participated in the Costa Rica program, Dan said “I think it was good to have a mixed bag of disciplines- being around people who are interested in and excited about things you might not have studied much really makes you interested in them as well.” The range of disciplines and interests of NRES students can sometimes seem overwhelming, but sharing a learning experience with a diverse group of peers often brings about a broader perspective and a sense of community. Many students come away from both summer programs with new or deeper friendships and renewed excitement for their fields of study. As Hattie put it, “The trip is absolutely worth it. It’s really what you make of it- if you want to have a memorable experience it just depends on your attitude.”

Dan Eaton, a double major in Forestry and NRES (with a focus on forestry), also enjoyed the visit to the Monteverde coffee farm. “Our guide was trained as a forester,” he said, “it was cool to see the ways that (forestry background) influenced the farm. They left a patch of forest on land that could have been used for growing coffee or other crops,

6 NRES Newsletter

All: Flora and fauna of Costa Rica


SUMMER CAMP

ROBINSON FOREST SUMMER CAMP BY QUINN TOWERY As the 2017 spring semester came to a close and summer break fell upon us, a group of 18 NRES students were not quite done with school. These students ventured out into nature for a threeweek summer camp. Their expeditions took place in the steep hills of eastern Kentucky, the mountains of West Virginia, and the very somber 9/11, Flight 93 crash site, in Pennsylvania. Throughout the trip, the students were exposed to a wide range of environmental and natural resource topics which, coupled with the close living conditions of Robinson Forest, coupled with a road trip, created a wonderful atmosphere that brought people together and built lasting friendships. As David Jalbert noted “Most of the students on this trip did not know each other very well prior to this summer,” but when summer camp ended, David said “I am truly happy that summer camp is a part of the NRES major, because it allows students to try out new things, get more experience, and make some life-long friends!” The travel segment was a new element of summer camp which in the past has been held in its entirety at UK’s Robinson Forest. Dr. Chris Barton, a Forestry Professor who teaches Forest Hydrology to NRES and Forestry students, founded and directs Green Forests Work (GFW), a nonprofit organization dedicated to re-establishing healthy forests in mined sites of Appalachia. Dr. Barton worked with GFW to incorporate this travel segment into the trip. Green Forests Work was awarded a grant by the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement to engage the next generation of youth in reforestation of reclaimed surface mines. This grant allowed the NRES summer camp students to venture out with GFW to expand their knowledge of tree planting techniques and mine reclamation.

Above: NRES student planting trees in the Monongahela National Forest

In Pennsylvania, the students worked alongside the wonderful people of the National Park Service and many volunteers to plant trees. When Flight 93 crashed, it landed on an old strip mine which was in a state of arrested succession. No trees were able to live on the compacted soils left behind after the mine closed. Our students not only planted trees, but helped organize the saplings, assisted the group leaders, and taught proper planting techniques to volunteers. The Flight 93 Memorial is a part of our nation’s history, and it is nice to know that our students are creating a better landscape in an area which has been scarred by the effects of surface mining and a national tragedy.

witnessed firsthand, and assisted with, large-scale watershed remediation and surface mining reclamation projects in the Monongahela National Forest. Along with working in conjunction with experts in the Monongahela Forest, the students enjoyed their down time at the wonderful Cheat Mountain Club. When asked what her favorite part of the trip was, Emily Ingram said “Definitely staying at the Cheat Mountain Club. Every evening we ate incredible food, canoed in the river, skipped rocks, hung out in hammocks, played kickball, and hung out by the fire.”

While in West Virginia the students Top Right: NRES Student planting trees at the Flight 93 Memorial Bottom Right: NRES summer camp at Flight 93 Memorial

FALL 2017

7


ADRIANNE ROGERS

PERSISTENCE PERSONIFIED: ADRIANNE ROGERS BY MADELEINE WAMSLEY NRES students often chart a path throughout the program that is unique to them, but few have done it with as much courage and sheer persistence as Adrianne Rogers. Adrianne recently had a heart transplant, after living for years with a heart condition, but she never let her heart act as a shield between her and the world around her. In fact, she found strength, and immense courage, in persisting throughout her daily life and achieving academic success. Adrianne entered college already struggling with her health, and it wasn’t until she met Dr. Arthur as a transfer into the NRES program that she was inspired to apply herself academically; she credits Dr. Arthur’s Forest Ecology class for providing her with an academic challenge that seemed meaningful. After Dr. Arthur’s class, Adrianne continued to tackle academic and health-related challenges. She

remembers struggling throughout physically demanding NRES Summer Camp hikes, and driving back and forth between the hospital and her NRES Capstone team meetings. However, she never let her health keep her from striving to ensure her Capstone project was successful or from learning all she could from the professors at Summer Camp. After her transplant surgery, Adrianne fully committed finishing her NRES degree because of her personal connection to Dr. Arthur whom she considers to be not just an advisor but a mentor who was as committed to Adrianne’s goals and successes as she was. Adrianne plans to use her persistence and courage to help her succeed as a lawyer after law school, which she plans to begin in Fall 2018, and tackle environmental injustices that she sees in the world.

Above: Adrianne Rogers with Dr. Mary Arther

WORDS FROM WENDELL BERRY (continued) How would you define success for students whose educational focus is on environmental issues and sustainable agriculture? How would I define success for students whose focus in their education is on environmental issues and sustainable agriculture? My friend Wes Jackson told me a story about a great professor of animal husbandry who attended a livestock show as an invited guest. The professor and his host were sitting in the judge’s stand when a class of Jersey heifers came into the ring. To honor the professor, his host asked him to which of the entrants he would give the blue ribbon. The professor replied, “I would give the blue ribbon to the one whose granddaughter produced the most milk.” The point, obviously, is that the present cannot provide enough evidence to determine success. For

8 NRES Newsletter

students at a public university, success cannot be a high grade point average or employment at “a good job” upon graduation. If “success” is to mean much of anything, then we have to say that one’s success will finally be determined by the condition of one’s dwelling place and of one’s community at the end of one’s life. From the point of view of one’s community, “personal success” is worth very little. This raises a difficult standard, but it is a standard that leads to the most interesting work.

In what ways has your own education and experience shaped your view on the importance of community-based success? In the course of my own education I encountered several very good, very demanding teachers whom I still respect and love. But at that time, so

far as I can remember from my own experience, the obligation to one’s dwelling place and community was not much talked about. For early instruction in that obligation I am indebted mainly to my father, who had inherited and had passed on to me exactly that obligation as it has been carried by the agrarian tradition. That tradition as a public or a social force was in decline by the time of my years in college, and it has declined much further since then. It survives still in the practice and the conversation of the best farmers and also in the work of such writers as Gene Logsdon and Wes Jackson. And of course I have hoped always to help that tradition to survive by my own work. Those are my answers, Ms. Coy. I hope they will meet with your approval and that they will be useful.


CAPSTONE

CAPSTONE NRE 471: URBAN STORM WATER MANAGMENT BY HANNAH MOORE management. Within this subject, students were charged with creating sub-topics, dividing into groups to tackle issues that matched their interests. Two of the group projects aimed at improving public awareness; one developed a stormwater curriculum for K-12 students, while the other organized and implemented a community outreach event that culminated in the painting and stenciling of storm drains. Two other groups worked on different aspects of a collaborative stream restoration project in north Lexington to assess and repair damage from stormwater runoff. Another group analyzed the use and effectiveness of best management practices (BMPs) on UK’s campus, and the last investigated green infrastructure as a means of stormwater runoff mitigation for households and small businesses.

Top: Capstone student painting a storm water drain Bottom: Capstone student lining the bank of a stream with mesh

Each spring semester, NRES seniors take the “capstone course,” Senior Problem in Natural Resources (NRE 471), designed to integrate the range of knowledge, interests, and experiences of NRES students into a single cohesive project. The interdisciplinary nature of the NRES program presents a challenge for a diverse group of students but can reveal the interconnectedness of different disciplines in a way that promotes creativity and real teamwork. The class of 2017 was able to rise to such a challenge with the leadership of Dr. Jack Schieffer, a professor of agricultural economics new to instructing the capstone class. The topic for the course, chosen by Dr. Schieffer, was urban stormwater

For the community outreach project, Grace Coy connected her group with students at William Wells Brown Elementary to create a collaborative and educational event. She encouraged elementary students to develop creative designs for storm drains as a means of educating and reminding the general public of their function, one of which was chosen and then painted on a drain near the school. “I was very happy with the outcome of our group’s project, as we were able to leave a legacy of our work (and the work of a very talented elementary school student) behind. I would never have chosen the topic of stormwater before taking this class, but this project, along with some of the work I’ve done after graduating, helped me to see how critical a role stormwater management and water quality awareness play in environmental education as a whole. While my focus is on trees, I understand and appreciate that these elements are intricately linked in their contributions to our quality of life.” Sara Stewart, a member of one of the two stream restoration groups, is now benefitting from what she learned through her capstone experience.

“I’m now working as a Sustainability Intern with Dr. Carmen Agouridis and the Water Systems Working Group on projects that provide educational opportunities through on-campus stream restorations and assisting UK’s Environmental Management staff with assessment and improvement of stormwater outreach through education and participatory activities,” Sara said. “The communication, collaboration, and pace of capstone really prepared me well for this project-based position, enabling me to set my own goals and allowing me to apply what we learned about the city’s MS4 permit requirements and related projects to UK’s own stormwater permit.” Though the outcomes of the groups’ projects were all quite positive, the journey to a final product in the capstone course is never easy and rarely smooth. Each year students are faced with many hurdles and frustrations to overcome, from discarded ideas to group dynamics. Dr. Schieffer had some wise words for his 2017 students (and future NRES seniors): “One of my favorite quotations is attributed to Otto von Bismarck, ‘Laws are like sausages; it is better not to see them being made.’ I think that it applies to NRES capstone projects, too. When we were in the chaotic, messy, sausage-making middle of the project, it was human nature to focus on the difficulties and setbacks that we encountered. However, at the end of the day, after pushing through the frustrating parts, we came out with a project that should make us proud. I am proud of the results that we delivered to our stakeholders. And I am proud of the character and leadership displayed by the students, as they took ownership of the project and rose to meet the challenges.”

FALL 2017

9


COURSE HIGHLIGHT

WATER IN URBANIZING LANDSCAPES LA 531 BY HANNAH MOORE

The way water moves through a landscape shapes not only the physical geography, but the composition of the soil, the types of plants and organisms that occupy it, and the way they all interact as well. Understanding the way a hydrological system works is integral to the care and management of the environment. In a world that is becoming increasingly urban, our ability to maintain or enhance the health of the environments we inhabit is extremely important. A course offered through the Landscape Architecture program addresses these ideas and connects them to how we live in urban and suburban settings. The course,

Water in Urbanizing Landscapes (LA 531), explores the ways water shapes and alters our environment and the ways these processes can be managed and mitigated using natural systems. More specifically, LA 531 is a lecture and laboratory class offered every spring that touches on a range of hydrological topics, including best management practices, stream classification, and urban storm water management. Students are challenged and encouraged to think about the mechanics of water processes within the scope of a broader ecological system, while collecting and analyzing data and gaining field experience. Course instructor Dr. Chris Sass has two main objectives in mind for this class: “First, to help students observe and comprehend natural and humaninduced processes regarding water. Second, to show that everything is connected somehow. To paraphrase John Muir, pull a string in nature and find it connected to everything else.” Dr. Sass’s extensive background in biology and environmental design allows him to provide his students with

a uniquely ecological perspective of landscape design and management. His enthusiasm for studying natural water systems and pathways is evident in his approach to teaching: “My undergraduate research was to look at successional sequences of reclaimed floodplains along the Missouri River. This research sparked my interest in water movement and biotic responses in riparian and stream systems, and I try to bring those interests and excitement to the class. I enjoy working outside, and seeing students understand and experience the things they’ve been learning in the classroom outside is always great.” The class typically heads to a local park to assess a stream every Friday during the later part of the semester. A relatively small class size (usually capped at twelve students) allows for individual attention during lectures and especially out in the field. Dr. Sass encourages any student interested in working with water to consider LA 531, particularly those with a strong desire to deepen their knowledge about how water moves through the landscape and what we can do to mitigate some of those issues using natural systems. The course load involves a combination of individual work and some group work, all intended to be simultaneously enjoyable and educational. Dr. Sass says he enjoys “watching the students leave the course thinking about how they could improve the environment incrementally, which hopefully will begin to make a big contribution to society.”

Students who are interested in or have questions about the course can reach Dr. Sass via email: chris.sass@uky.edu

Top Left: Students on a local waterfall Bottom Left: Students in a local stream

10 NRES Newsletter


COURSE HIGHLIGHT

HAVE YOU TAKEN ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION NRE 390? BY MADELEINE WAMSLEY

Above: Students identifying a salamander Bottom right: Laurie Thomas teaching a group of students at Robinson Forest Top Right: Students using forestry tools to assess lumber Due to the interdisciplinary nature of the NRES degree, students within the program have a variety of interests and career goals, but all are united in their interest in the environments around them. NRES students have had the opportunity to learn how to analyze and experience their world from educators of many different backgrounds throughout their educational experiences. Those who have decided to pay it forward as environmental educators will find that NRE 390: Environmental Education offers an amazing opportunity to gain practical experience in the field, although the communication and planning skills are valuable to all regardless of their future career plans. NRE 390 is an excellent learning opportunity both for students who are committed to working as an environmental educator and for students who are unsure if they wish to pursue environmental education as a career. Due to the course’s heavy emphasis on handson experience, it offers an opportunity for students to see whether environmental education is the field for them. All

students participating in NRE 390 will become certified in Project Learning, a nationally recognized environmental education curriculum, learn how to create and present an environmental outreach piece from lesson plan to delivery, and visit local centers that provide a variety of different approaches to environmental education. NRE 390 offers valuable opportunities for students to learn how to communicate effectively about the environment, using knowledge gained in their past coursework and the experiences they’ve accumulated throughout their time within the NRES program. As Laurie Thomas, the instructor for this class in Spring 2018, says, “at some point in time all NRES students will be responsible for educating others about their chosen environmental field and why it’s important,” so the ability to communicate clearly and effectively about their experiences, and act as an informal environmental educator throughout their careers, is vital. The end goal for those who have participated in the course is to ensure that all students have a greater awareness of environmental

education and feel that they will be able to incorporate environmental education into any of their chosen careers. When not teaching future environmental educators, Ms. Thomas works as an Extension Forester providing forestry and natural resource education programs to adults and children throughout the state that raise awareness about the importance of Kentucky’s forests. She sees this class as an opportunity to shape the next generation of environmental educators and share her experiences with those who will be working as educators to “help create environmentally literate citizens who are prepared to make wise decisions about our environment.” Laurie Thomas is available by email at laurie.thomas@uky.edu Envrionmental Education, currently NRE 390, will receive an official designation, NRE 365, following University Senate approval.

FALL 2017 11


STUDY ABROAD

FUNKY TIMES IN ECUADOR: NICOLE FUNK STUDIES ABROAD BY QUINN TOWERY As Natural Resources and Environmental Science students, the world is our classroom. While many of us complete our degrees within the confines of Kentucky, some of us venture out to faraway places. Nicole Funk did just that. A current junior in the NRES program focusing on conservation biology and environmental education, Nicole studied abroad in Ecuador last spring. Through the UK Direct Exchange program Nicole spent the semester studying at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito, located in Northern Ecuador, surrounded by the Andes Mountains and lying in the shadow of Pichincha, an active volcano. In Ecuador, Nicole took engaging classes such as Ecology & Conservation of the Galapagos, Eco-Anthropology, and Introduction to Archaeology. In these courses, Nicole’s learning opportunities were greatly enhanced by the location. For example, studying ecology and conservation in a location that incorporated the Galapagos Islands was an amazing and highly instructive experience. Nicole was also very interested in the indigenous population of Ecuador, and her courses in anthropology and archaeology stimulated a growing interest in how indigenous people use

12 NRES Newsletter

the environment. Unlike many students who study abroad, Nicole did not travel to Ecuador with a group of students from the United States, but traveled there independently. This gave her no safety net of English-speaking friends to fall back on; she was completely immersed in the culture and language. Nicole enjoyed her independent travels because it gave her more freedom and it pushed her out of her comfort zone. While in Ecuador, Nicole found a home away from home, where her experiences outside of the classroom had the largest impact on her and will stay with her the longest. As a dedicated student, it is easy to get wrapped up in school. Always working to achieve good grades, we may forget to prioritize other important aspects of life. When she went to Ecuador, Nicole was taken aback by how welcoming her host family was. Trips to the lake, Sunday lunches at the grandparents’ house, and getting to take part in a wedding were just some of the activities in which her host family included her. Nicole says the experiences with her host family really made her feel welcome, and also made her appreciate her own family and friends that much more.

Above: Nicole Funk with her host family

She found meaning and importance in taking time to be a whole person, not just a student. When asked if she would suggest studying abroad in Ecuador to other NRES students, Nicole said “Definitely! Ecuador is a great place to study and be immersed in different landscapes. It’s also a great place to learn about different cultures.” Nicole’s study abroad experience also cost the same as a semester at UK, in large part because she arranged it through the Direct Exchange program. To learn how you could do this, reach out to Nicole about her experiences, or make an appointment with UK Education Abroad.

Bottom: Andes Mountains Top: Nicole Funk with new found friends


STUDY ABROAD

DIVING INTO NEW EXPERIENCES: ROSE YELEY & DAVID EHLERT BY QUINN TOWERY Many NRES students study abroad by enrolling in the Costa Rica summer camp, but for students like Rose Yeley and David Ehlert, both interested in marine science, a 3 week winter marine course on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico fulfilled that NRES requirement. The marine field course Rose and David took was offered through a program called Ecosystem Field Studies (EcoFS). EcoFS is a program that allows students to gain university credit hours for hands-on research experience in locations as far afield as the Caribbean and Colorado. On Rose and David’s field course, taken during winter break last year, diving and snorkeling trips into diverse marine environments were daily events. In addition to group work, each student was also tasked with creating their own research project, working with the staff of EcoFS. The experience invigorated Rose and David to continue working towards a marine science career path, despite the lack of an established marine science pathway at UK On the beaches of the small community Xpu-Ha, Rose and David developed their individual research projects. David studied the effects lionfish have on reef head coral populations, and Rose studied the relationship between sponge species and filtration times. Rose was especially excited to gain experience with scuba gear, and became PADI SCUBA certified during the course. Every day of the program was spent on the beach and in the ocean. David feels his passion for research was reinvigorated by living on a research base and experiencing the professional environment expected by professors and researchers. Students had the option of sleeping in tents or in bungalows directly next to the beach; either way, everyone was completely immersed in the marine environment throughout the entire program. The ebbs and flows of the tides was an experience Rose was able to fully

Top: A typical EcoFS class setting Bottom Left: A sea turtle off the coast of Xpu-Hu Bottom Right: Coral off the coast of Xpu-Hu

appreciate due to the length of time she spent on the beach. Rose and David both agree that a significant aspect of their appreciation of the program was the friendships they each made. Rose says she now has friends across the United States and even Canada; she met up with one of her new friends this past summer to go diving off the coast of Belize. David also continues to stay in contact with many of the friends he made during the program.

career and I will cherish the memories for the rest of my life” said Rose. David echoed this positive sentiment, saying “the benefits far outweigh the costs”. Gaining new experiences, meeting new people, and being pushed outside of comfort zones help students grow. If you would like to know more about Rose and David’s experience they would be happy to talk to you.

While it may seem daunting , David and Rose encourage anyone who is considering studying abroad to do it. “Studying abroad is the best thing I have done in my entire college

FALL 2017 13


STUDENT OPPORTUNITIES SUSTAINABILITY INVOLVMENT

NRES IN THE STUDENT SUSTAINABILITY COUNCIL BY QUINN TOWERY program provides to its students helps to inform the decisions made by the SSC. The current Director of Outreach in the SSC, Sophie Beavin, states that the NRES program has helped her to provide sound scientific arguments for why certain projects should or should not be funded. It is important that the money in the sustainability fund support projects that will have the greatest impact.

Above: From left to right; Sophie Beavin, Rachel Cook, Nachie Braga, Sarah Peter, Victor Halmos, And Julianna Dantzer Below: SSC Logo gained through the fee to support sustainability projects that engage UK students on campus.

Since 2009 the University of Kentucky has been working to create a culture of sustainability on campus through the funding of sustainability projects supported by the Environmental Stewardship Fee every UK student pays each semester ($3.50/semester). In 2004, UK’s environmental activism club, Greenthumb, proposed the fee as a mechanism to generate funds to support campus sustainability. The environmental stewardship fee was approved by the UK Board of Trustees in 2006 and implemented in 2009. The Student Sustainability Council (SSC) was created in 2009 to award the funds

14 NRES Newsletter

Throughout the history of the SSC, NRES students have played pivotal roles. Past NRES students such as Patrick Johnson (‘12), Eric Hope (‘13), Stratton Hatfield(‘13), and Mariah Lewis(‘15) left their marks on the organization. Along with the all-star group of past NRES students who have been on the SSC, a large number of current NRES students serve on the SSC: Julianna Dantzer, Sophie Beavin, Nachie Braga, Sarah Peter, Viktor Halmos, and Rachel Cook. The SSC seeks a diverse group of students to represent the University’s sustainability community, with many of the positions on the council tied to representation from environmentallyoriented student clubs. With this in mind, it is wonderful that our students can bring the knowledge they acquire from NRES and their extra-curricular efforts, and share it with the diverse community that the SSC has. Our current SSC members are very passionate about their work in sustainability and will continue to carry forward the legacy which the past members worked hard to establish. The disciplinary knowledge that the NRES

By applying for funding through the SSC, anyone in the university can create a sustainability project. One of the most recent SSC-funded projects is Nachie Braga’s bat conservation initiative. Funded by the SSC, Nachie is creating artificial bat habitat in McConnell Springs, a city nature park. Creating, and getting funding for, a project is a wonderful way to get involved in sustainability on campus, but there are also many other options for students to get involved. When asked what advice to give a student looking to get into the world of sustainability, At-Large member Julianna Dantzer listed 10 organizations off the top of her head, with widely differing interests and practices. Julianna made the point that whatever your interest, there is a sustainability organization which you can be a part of. Not only this, Julianna wanted to stress how important it is to spread out our knowledge, and refrain from clumping into a small group which only has likeminded individuals. To create the most change, the NRES community must spread its knowledge across campus, and the SSC is just one wonderful way to do that. If you are interested in joining the SSC or would like to submit a proposal for funding, go to the Student Sustainability Council website (https://www.uky.edu/ sustainability/student-sustainabilitycouncil) . All information regarding the SSC can be found on the website. Also, contact the NRES students in the SSC. They would be more than happy to talk with you.


SUSTAINABILITY INVOLVMENT

KSEC WITH CAMERON BALLER BY QUINN TOWERY Since arriving at the University of Kentucky, Cameron Baller has become a campus leader in the student sustainability community. It is hard to get involved in student run environmental activism without meeting Cameron, who is very passionate about social and environmental justice, and works hard to improve the community’s understanding of such topics. Recently, he has become involved in the Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition, or KSEC. KSEC connects students across the state, and allows their voices to be heard. As a member of KSEC, Cameron is involved in many aspects of the organization. He is currently on the steering committee for the “Just Transition Working Group,” which focuses on facilitating a clean and prosperous economic transition in Eastern Kentucky. He is also one of the founding members of the “Pipelines and Natural Gas Working Group,” which is currently focused on opposition to the Kinder Morgan pipeline project. Cameron is also a member of KSEC’s state network of student activists through his membership in Greenthumb, UK’s environmental activist club and a KSEC coalition organization. The work KSEC does is extremely important to Cameron. He highlights the need for our generation to organize and make change. Through KSEC, technical skills for organizing our generation towards a more socially and environmentally just future can be learned. KSEC teaches a variety of skills to involved students, including fundraising, recruitment,

Above: KSEC Logo Top Right: Cameron Baller

facilitation and social media in the hopes of creating a more socially and environmentally just Kentucky. The connections made by students throughout the state through involvement with KSEC may be one of the best aspects of the coalition. Cameron has made many friends through KSEC, and he would encourage anyone who is interested in social and environmental justice to join. “KSEC is a strong social community that connects students across the state and empowers them to create change. I have made life-long friends through this community and wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.” One way students can engage in KSEC activities and get to know the community is through their summer training program, Catalyst. For the past several years, the Student Sustainability Council has approved funding for a handful of students to attend this program free of charge. Last year Cameron was one of the students who attended the program. “Catalyst is a summer training program for student activists and, in my opinion, one of the greatest experiences one could be a part of. I learned and practiced a variety of technical organizing skills like social media, recruitment, campaign planning and more. I also developed

in a major way as a person through the trainings and activities related to anti-oppression, intersectionality, and identity. Finally, I made an astounding number of life-long friends through this experience. I simply cannot recommend Catalyst enough; it will change your life.” Cameron’s advice to NRES students who would like to get involved with KSEC is to first join Greenthumb. KSEC and Greenthumb work hand in hand to promote environmental activism on UK’s campus. Another option is to contact Cara Cooper, KSEC’s state organizer, at KSEC.cara@seac.org. And finally, if you would just like to know more about the organization, what it does, and what the atmosphere is like, contact Cameron. He would love to talk about it with you.

Above: UK Greenthumb

FALL 2017 15


STEERING COMMITTEE

THE NRES STEERING COMMITTEE: GUIDING STUDENTS TO SUCESSFUL PATHWAYS

Pictured from left to right: Dr. Jack Schieffer, Department of Agricultural Economics; Dr. Brian Lee, Department of Landscape Architecture; Dr. Chris Matocha, Department of Plant and Soil Science; Dr. Dave McNear, Department of Plant and Soil Science; Robert Paratley, Department of Forestry; Dr. Steve Price, Department of Forestry; Dr. Mary Arthur, Department of Forestry. Not pictured: Dr. Chris Sass, Department of Landscape Architecture; Dr. Kevin Yeager, Department of Earth and Environmental Science. The Steering Committee oversees all aspects of the NRES curriculum including advising students, revising program objectives, and directing expansion of the major. This year the steering committee has been working at to expand NRES curricular options in a way that effectively captures the interests of students in our growing program. The efforts of these faculty contribute greatly to NRES students’ abilities to forge unique and valuable pathways to success both during and after their time at the University of Kentucky.

A SPECIAL THANKS TO GRACE COY We would like to express our most sincere gratitude to former NRES student assistant Grace Coy (’17). During her time as a co-author and co-editor of this newsletter, Grace devoted an incredible amount of time, energy, and skill to its production and success. Grace now works with the Urban Forest Initiative organizing education and outreach programs and producing a regional newsletter. We are very lucky to have worked with and learned from Grace, and we wish her the absolute best in her future endeavors!

HAVE IDEAS FOR FUTURE STORIES? If you have news you would like to see included in the newsletter, or other comments or information, please email me at marthur@uky.edu. We aim to keep you informed of our activities and engaged in the success of our current students and alumni.

CONNECT WITH US ON SOCIAL MEDIA

16 NRES Newsletter

HELP NRES CONTINUE HELPING STUDENTS ON THEIR PATHWAYS TO SUCCESS! NRES is seeking donations to help fund student scholarships. We will soon have a way to accept online donations. In the meantime, if you wish to donate, contact Geri Philpott at geri.philpott@uky.edu or 859-257-2337.

Profile for KentuckyNRES

NRES Fall 2017 Newsletter  

NRES Fall 2017 Newsletter  

Advertisement