OWU and City of Delaware Storm Drain Net Collaboration

Students and faculty have been working a project to implement a storm drain net in the Delaware Run on campus. The purpose of the net will be to remove trash and green waste/debris from the Delaware Run behind Merrick on campus.

Beginning in the Fall of 2018, Janelle Valdinger, Dr. John Krygier and I (Brianna Graber) have been cohesively working a project to implement a storm drain net in the Delaware Run, on OWU’s campus. The purpose of this project will be for Summer Science Research through Ohio Wesleyan University and for an internship with the City of Delaware. The purpose of the net will be to remove trash and green waste/debris from the Delaware Run behind Merrick on campus.
I will be using funding from the City of Delaware, a Theory to Practice Grant from Ohio Wesleyan that I wrote and was awarded, as well as a donation from FLOW (Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed), DelCo Water Co., and the American Kayaking Association (AKA). These funds will be used to obtain and purchase the net and research supplies, fund the machinery used for the project, and create an educational sign.
We will be in constant contact with the company used in purchasing and constructing the net, StormX, to give measurements and data for the net as well.
As of mid-January, the run area behind Merrick was surveyed for data and measurements to begin constructing the net and the order will be placed soon.
     
The goal is to have the net delivered mid-April in order to stay on schedule for Summer Science Research. As of right now, the plan is still on track.

Ohio Wesleyan Student Earns NSF Funds to Attend First-of-Its-Kind Conference

DELAWARE, Ohio – Ohio Wesleyan University student Janelle Valdinger is one of fewer than 20 undergraduate and graduate students across the country invited to participate in January in the first national Workshop on Community Geography.

Building Community Through Geography

Ohio Wesleyan Student Earns NSF Funds to Attend First-of-Its-Kind Conference

DELAWARE, Ohio – Ohio Wesleyan University student Janelle Valdinger is one of fewer than 20 undergraduate and graduate students across the country invited to participate in January in the first national Workshop on Community Geography.

Valdinger, an OWU geography major, has been named a Community Geography Fellow and awarded funds to attend the two-day conference Jan. 25-26 at Georgia State University in Atlanta. According to organizers, the National Science Foundation-supported workshop will bring together 40 to 50 Community Geography Fellows, who are “academic researchers and community leaders interested in using geographic research for community development, social justice, and environmental sustainability.”

In addition to being a full-time Ohio Wesleyan student, Valdinger also is a full-time employee of the City of Delaware, where she works as a Geographic Information System (GIS) technician.

She said her main goals for the workshop include “learning new ways to use geographic research for community development, especially in other countries … and finding new ways to build a stronger, long-lasting working relationship between Ohio Wesleyan University and the City of Delaware.”

Valdinger already has helped to coordinate a joint university-city project to install three water-purifying rain gardens on OWU’s campus. She is helping now to implement a collaborative relationship that involves the city’s Department of Public Utilities hosting OWU students as interns and “developing a partnership with the OWU Summer Science Research Program where the city hires a student-intern for the summer and the university provides housing, along with faculty guidance for a research project.”

The first Ohio Wesleyan student to hold the summer research internship is junior zoology major Brianna Graber. Graber is working with the city this semester on a project to fund and install storm-drain nets to catch large waste items and prevent them from entering the Olentangy River.

While attending the Georgia conference, Valdinger will present information on the developing OWU-Delaware partnership, which currently includes eight university students working on environmental projects.

In addition, she hopes to glean information to assist with her Ohio Wesleyan departmental honors project, which focuses on mapping public utilities in Belize.

On campus, she is collaborating on the honors project with Department of Geology and Geography faculty members John Krygier, Ph.D., director of environmental studies; Nathan Amador Rowley, Ph.D.; and Ashley Allen, Ph.D., and with Jay Scheffel, assistant director of physical plant. Off campus, Valdinger is working with 2003 OWU alumnus Tim Hawthorne, Ph.D., assistant professor of GIS at the University of Central Florida.

“Not only will we be mapping utilities, but we will be providing utility locators to the local government officials in Belize,” Valdinger said. “Citizen Science will play a large role in this project, and learning (at the workshop) about what avenues other professionals have taken will help greatly in the execution of my project.”

Krygier, who was also named a Community Geography Fellow, said he is excited for Valdinger to attend the workshop and share her OWU accomplishments with scholars from across the country, and to learn how to further community engagement on campus, in Delaware, and abroad.

He also is excited by the overall potential of community geography, one of his research specialties, and its focus on engaged community work.

“It’s about creating a win-win situation for colleges and their communities,” Krygier said, “with positive impacts, research experiences, and real-world engagement between people and institutions who share many common goals.”

Learn more about the upcoming national Workshop on Community Geography at www.communitymappinglab.org/commgeog19.html and more about OWU’s geography major at www.owu.edu/geography or https://sustainability.owu.edu.

Special Spring Course: Geog 490: Humanitarian Mapping

For the Spring of 2018, Dr. Amador-Rowley and Dr. Allen along with student Janelle Valdinger have organized a “group independent study” course focused on creating better maps for areas of rural Tanzania through a non-profit organization called Crowd2Map.

For the Spring of 2018, Dr. Amador-Rowley and Dr. Allen along with student Janelle Valdinger have organized a “group independent study” course focused on creating better maps for areas of rural Tanzania through a non-profit organization called Crowd2Map.

No experience necessary!

You can take the class either Tuesday (Dr. Amador-Rowley) or Thursday (Dr. Allen) afternoon.

Space is limited!

Contact Dr. Rowley (nsamador@owu.edu) or Dr. Allen (alallen@owu.edu) ASAP.

Probably best if you fill out a Change-of-Schedule Form from the Registrar’s site and use that to enroll in the class.


Independent Study Description: Students will help create better maps of rural Tanzania, particularly those areas where girls are at risk of Female Genital Mutilation. Students will liaise with volunteers in Tanzania and worldwide. Adding roads and buildings from satellite images into OpenStreetMap will allow activists to better protect girls at risk of FGM and allow better delivery and monitoring of services, as well as improved navigation. After training, students will also give feedback to new mappers and assist with validation. They will liaise with community mappers on the ground and also create village level printable maps using QGIS. We will work with small communities that do not typically show up on maps. The open-source map developed in this independent study effort will be open to everyone and help better planning of services. No previous mapping experience necessary!!

New .25 credit Activity Course on Zero Waste! Spring 2019

It took us more than a year but we now are able to offer an ACTV (Activity Course) with sustainability content. This started as a student initiative.

For the spring of 2018, this course will be offered during the first and second module for .25 credit. Thus the course is a great add-on to your normal class load.

Please sign up for the class, and urge others to do so. We can offer additional topics (organic gardening, repair, etc.) in the future if this one flies.

The instructor is Aleks Ilik: he is an OWU grad and happens to be married to Kristina Bogdanov (Art). Aleks runs the Blue House Worm Farm in town and is currently working with students Matt Burke and Peyton Hardesty on a worm composting table at MTSO. One goal for the course is to expand this effort to OWU’s campus.

Chris Fink of HHK is listed as the instructor, but that is only because Aleks is not yet in the OWU system.

Meetings are scheduled Wednesday, noon-1 and Friday 2:10-4pm. Location TBA.

The Activity course will expand this effort, working with AVI and other folks to reduce waste on campus.

Please let us know if you have any questions!

 

Students & Organizations: Sponsor a Rain Barrel!

Rain barrels have become increasingly popular. As a community, we can increase this popularity by making them more visually appealing. Businesses, organizations, and individuals have the opportunity to fund a rain barrel with an installation kit for $34. The cost includes sanding, washing, and priming each barrel before it is given for painting.

Sponsor a Rain Barrel!

Since 2014, the City of Delaware has organized the Northern Olentangy Watershed (NOW) Festival that highlights our local, water resources. This summer, the 5th annual NOW Festival will take place on June 16th at Mingo Park (500 E. Lincoln Ave. Delaware, OH) from 12-3 p.m. As part of the festival, the annual rain barrel raffle will occur. Rain barrels provide many stormwater benefits including:

 

  • Reduction of stormwater runoff
  • Providing a free/sustainable source of water for lawn and gardening care -Reduction of harmful pollutants being carried into our waterways
  • Reduction of ponding and flooding
  • Reduction of water bill costs

Rain barrels have become increasingly popular. As a community, we can increase this popularity by making them more visually appealing. Businesses, organizations, and individuals have the opportunity to fund a rain barrel with an installation kit for $34. The cost includes sanding, washing, and priming each barrel before it is given for painting. The barrels can be both sponsored and painted by the same entity, or a request can be made for a local art class to paint it. These barrels will be raffled off at the NOW Festival on June 16th at Mingo Park and proceeds will go to help support the Upper Olentangy River Watershed.

See form, below.

Payment must accompany the sponsorship requests. All rain barrel request forms must be received by Friday, April 13th by 4 p.m. The purchase of the rain barrel and kit is non-refundable.

Checks can be made out to “City of Delaware, Public Utilities” and mailed to:

City of Delaware
Caroline Cicerchi, Watershed Coordinator 
225 Cherry Street
Delaware, Ohio 43015

There are a limited number of barrels available for this opportunity. Once that limit has been obtained or the deadline for ordering has been reached the barrels will be distributed to the appropriate painters. Local art programs in the community, including local schools, have been contacted about painting some of these barrels. If you are interested in utilizing one of these programs, please indicate so on the order form. There may be a limit to these programs, so each request will be accommodated on a first-come basis. You will be notified by email once the supplies are available for pickup or delivery. It is expected that the rain barrels will start to be delivered or available for pick up starting Monday, April 2nd as requests are received.

If you are painting the barrel yourself, please use outdoor acrylic paint (same paint that is bought for painting the outside of houses, outdoor fencing, etc.). The rain barrels will need to be decorated by May 31st. Once decorated, you can put them on display at your business either inside or outside leading up to the Northern Olentangy Watershed (NOW) Festival or, if preferred, they can be dropped off at the Wastewater Treatment Plant Facility for the City to put them on display.

All painted barrels will need to be delivered to the City of Delaware’s Wastewater Treatment Plant Facility (225 Cherry St., Delaware, OH) before 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, June 13th.

Please consider participating in this fun event! The festival will be held at Mingo Park (500 E. Lincoln Ave., Delaware, Ohio) on June 16th from 12:00-3:00 p.m. Raffle ticket sales will begin at 12 p.m. and end at 2:30 p.m. with the winning ticket to be drawn shortly after.

Please contact Caroline Cicerchi, Watershed & Sustainability Coordinator, with any questions at 740-203-1905 or ccicerchi@delawareohio.net.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Publication: “Scrappy Sustainability at OWU” – Chapter written by OWU Student & Faculty

“‘Scrappy” Sustainability at Ohio Wesleyan University” is a recently published book chapter which describes OWU’s sustainability efforts and strategies over the last decade.

Woodrow (Woody) Clark is an OWU alumnus (’67) long involved with environmental and sustainability efforts. The second edition of his Sustainable Cities and Communities Design Handbook (December 2017 info here and here) contains a chapter written by OWU student Emily Howald (OWU, ’18) and Professor of Geography John Krygier.

“‘Scrappy” Sustainability at Ohio Wesleyan University” describes OWU’s sustainability efforts and strategies over the last decade. These efforts have been the work of students, staff, faculty, alumni and community members all working at a grassroots level. These efforts, in practice, have led us to develop a series of strategies, Scrappy Sustainability, which is particularly appropriate for colleges and universities.

The first page of the chapter below. PDF here.

…and a text from the first few pages:


“Scrappy” Sustainability at Ohio Wesleyan University

Emily Howald, John Krygier

Ohio Wesleyan University, Delaware, OH, United States

Chapter Outline
A Grassroots Model for Sustainability in Higher Education 561
The Context of Sustainability at Ohio Wesleyan University 561
Coordinating Sustainability Without a Sustainability Coordinator 564
“Scrappy Sustainability” Outcomes 565
A New Model for Sustainability? 570

A GRASSROOTS MODEL FOR SUSTAINABILITY IN HIGHER EDUCATION

There are colleges and universities with the expertise and financial resources to invest in large-scale, conspicuous sustainability efforts (such as large solar arrays, stylish LEED-certified buildings, and full-time sustainability staff) and there are those who do not. However, those without the funds for conspicuous sustainability are not necessarily excluded from substantive sustainability efforts. Indeed, we suggest that grassroots, “scrappy” sustainability efforts on college campuses and at other institutions may have certain benefits over top-down, high-investment sustainability.

THE CONTEXT OF SUSTAINABILITY AT OHIO WESLEYAN UNIVERSITY

Ohio Wesleyan University (OWU) is a small, private, liberal arts college in central Ohio that serves as a modest showcase for a relatively low-cost, grassroots, and distributed approach to sustainability. The university neither has a sustainability coordinator position nor any other employee with distinct expertise in sustainability. None of the faculty have specializations in the field, and there are no classes taught on the subject. As of yet, there is no official sustainability plan and there are neither funds nor donations set aside specifically for sustainability projects. OWU has, over the last decade, expanded its endowment, raised significant funds for student travel and research, and embarked on a substantial upgrade to campus student housing. These are all fundamentally important and easily justifiable priorities. Given this situation, it is easy for students, faculty, and staff to feel like not enough is being done to foster sustainability on campus. Instead of complaining about the lack of top-down, large-investment sustainability, a group of students, faculty, and staff have embarked on a grassroots effort to make sustainability work at OWU despite limited resources. Ultimately, we argue, sustainability efforts can succeed if those who believe in the value of sustainability actually do something, then persist in furthering the efforts until something takes hold, and then persist in keeping the efforts going. Successes with these smaller, “scrappy” efforts will, hopefully, lead to larger efforts, backed by a spreading culture of sustainability.

OWU has a rocky history with sustainability efforts. Many higher education institutions believe that they must be leaders in finding solutions to the environmental crisis by developing and promoting the knowledge, tools, and technologies needed to transition to a sustainable society. As the environmental movement emerged and developed in the 1960s and the 1970s, OWU established an Environmental Studies major, the first such program in an academic institution in Ohio. In its nearly 40-year existence, the program has produced hundreds of majors that have gone on to successful careers related to the environment. In 2009, a Sustainability Task Force was created to evaluate the President’s Climate Commitment (PCC), which 80% of students voted to support. Despite the lack of any direct negative consequences for not meeting the PCC goals, the Task Force was concerned about the capital investments and employee time needed to implement and monitor the necessary energy efficiency upgrades to campus facilities, and recommended that a sustainability coordinator be hired (rather than signing the PCC). In 2011, an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant funded a 2-year sustainability coordinator position. The university hired Sean Kinghorn for the position, and his efforts generated significant rebate funds for the university, as well as energy-saving efforts and dozens of sustainability projects (many led by students). In 2013, Kinghorn’s position ended, after the failure of several grants intended to acquire additional funds for the position. A student protest later that year demonstrated student commitment to the sustainability coordinator position. With the decision not to sign the PCC and the lack of funds to continue the sustainability coordinator position, one might expect the prospects for sustainability on campus to fade. At that point, the campus Sustainability Task Force set out on an effort to encourage grassroots sustainability efforts and create a campus sustainability plan, despite the setbacks.


 

 

OWU Environmental Studies & Sustainability Progress, Spring 2017

Established and ongoing efforts in environment and sustainability by Ohio Wesleyan students, staff and faculty and off-campus collaborators active during the 2016-17 academic year.

Established and ongoing efforts in environment and sustainability by Ohio Wesleyan students, staff and faculty and off-campus collaborators active during the 2016-17 academic year. 

A PDF of this document is available here.
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OWU Sustainability Plan: As a liberal arts institution, Ohio Wesleyan University must be a leader in progressive sustainability initiatives through educational, technical, and social means. The proposed Ohio Wesleyan Sustainability Plan (click for PDF) is intended to invigorate and expand a culture of sustainability that has a positive impact on the environment. Draft of the OWU Sustainability Plan, created by faculty, staff and students, is complete and being revised and vetted. Students in our Sustainability Practicum are currently arranging to move the proposed plan through OWU’s administrative network during the spring of 2017.
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May Move Out: A student-initiated project in collaboration with Goodwill, to defer usable materials from the trash as students move off campus in May. We defer 10 tons of reusable furniture, appliances, clothes, bikes, etc. on average, each May. Students are currently meeting with OWU’s Buildings & Grounds and Residential Life staff to plan for and promote the 2017 May Move Out. Ohio Wesleyan’s May Move Out program was awarded the 2015 Recycling Award from the Keep Delaware County Beautiful Coalition.

Reusable Food Containers in Hamilton Williams Campus Center: A student project initiated in the Fall of 2015 is being expanded during the spring of 2017. A new dishwasher was installed in our campus center in part to provide adequate washing of the containers. Students and campus food service staff are working to improve and expand the program during the Spring of 2017.

Environmental Science Major: A proposal for an Environmental Science major (in addition to our 39 year old Environmental Studies major) will be brought before OWU committees and faculty for consideration and approval during the Spring of 2017.

Environmental Studies Minor in Food Studies: A Food Studies Minor (developed from the Food Course Connection) is in place (a collaboration between Health and Human Kinetics [HHK] and Environmental Studies). Two more minors, Sustainability and Climate Science are being developed.

Living Green Infrastructure Proposal: Students and staff are working on a proposal for a Living Green residence hall option. 1) Develop structural sustainability. 2) Allow students to live more sustainably by reducing their water, energy, and material waste. 3) Include workshop/classroom area for sustainable learning (repair, self-production). 4) Trained RA’s to be sustainable life assistants.

Delaware Foodshed Farm and Food Collaboration: Building on the Food Studies Minor and student interest in gardens, farming and food, OWU faculty in Environmental Studies and HHK are developing a collaboration between Stratford Ecological Center farms and the Methodist School of Ohio farms. Initial efforts will focus on student internships and engagement of OWU in a regional food network. With financial support for staff (donations or grants) campus gardens will be developed. Efforts will focus on the practice of ecologically sound farming, food production, regional food networks and social outreach (building on the existing Cooking Matters Program, organized by Dr. Chris Fink) to engage students and community members in growing food.

Environmental and Sustainability Internships: Eight to ten internships are being offered on a regular basis at Stratford Ecological Center and the City of Delaware. Foci include environmental education, marketing, farming, and sustainability. Additional internships will be available at the Seminary Hill Farm (Methodist Theological School of Ohio) Fall 2017.

Global Environmental Change Collaboration & Travel Learning Course: OWU collaboration with Amy Work (OWU ‘04) and her organization GeoPorter in Bahia Ballena-Uvita, Costa Rica. Learning and using environmental assessment methods in Delaware, Ohio (Fall 2017) and during a travel learning course trip (Dr. Nathan Amador’s Geography 347) to coastal Costa Rica (January 2018). Goal: to understand how local environmental data is collected and relates to regional and global climate and environmental change.

Chimney Swift Towers: A collaboration between students and OWU Alumni Dick Tuttle (OWU 1973) to build a chimney swift tower on the residential side of campus. Plans have been drawn up and cost estimates provided by a contractor. Funds will be provided by Tuttle. We anticipate construction during the spring or summer of 2017 pending approval from B&G and OWU’s Administration.

Campus Wildlife Habitat Enhancements: Student efforts continue to install and maintain bird houses, feeders and solitary bee houses on campus.

Green Week 2017: Building on a successful week of events in 2016, students are organizing another week of events for the spring of 2017 (the week prior to Earth Day).

Delaware Run Assessment and Restoration: Ongoing project focused on restoring Delaware Run between Sandusky St. and Henry St. Emerging collaboration with stream restoration specialists who propose restoration of the stream and adjacent riparian zone in return for state of Ohio stream credits. Currently waiting on the establishment of an official Ohio stream banking and credit procedure.

Bottled Water Sales Reduction: Student-led efforts to drive down bottled water purchases on campus, including the installation of hydration stations and promotion of reusable water bottles. Bottled water sales have dropped significantly in the last three years. We continue to install hydration stations (filtered water) at key locations as an alternative to bottled water.

Preserving a Paradise: The OWU Connection

An Ohio Wesleyan alumna, professors, and students are teaming up and using high-tech geography in Costa Rica to help preserve a rich and wonderful ecosystem.

(Photo by Alejandro Orozco)

An Ohio Wesleyan alumna, professors, and students are teaming up and using high-tech geography in Costa Rica to help preserve a rich and wonderful ecosystem.

Working with Geoporter’s Amy Work ’04 (far left), the OWU team included (from left) Professor John Krygier, Olivia Lease ’17, Michael Durfee ’17, Christopher Pessell ’18, Luke Steffen ’16, Maddy Coalmer ’18, and Assistant Professor Nathan Amador.

Looking out at the lush, vivid greenery around her simple home in Costa Rica, Amy Work ’04 can scarcely believe her good fortune. The sky is a gorgeous blue, a crystal-clear ocean is nearby, colorful tropical birds swoop overhead, and the sunshine is endless.

It’s a far cry from her growing-up years in Westerville and her college years at Ohio Wesleyan University, where weather tended more toward overcast skies and freezing Midwest winters.

“If you would have told me when I was in college that I’d be living in the tropics and working I would have said you’re joking, there is no way,” Work says. “Now I know that anything’s possible.”

A lofty sentiment, to be sure. But one she believes in so firmly that she’s trying to pass it along to other OWU students by inviting them to visit—and learn—in her little piece of paradise.

Work’s life on the eastern coast of Costa Rica centers on something she was introduced to at Ohio Wesleyan: GIS—geographic information system—technology. In its simplest form, it’s a way to display several sets of data on a single map so users can see and analyze the relationships between each. Accessed through computer software, the technology is used in fields ranging from archaeology to mosquito control to politics—anything that can use location as a factor.

GIS technology was growing in popularity in 2000 when Work was an OWU freshman taking a mapping course taught by geology and geography professor John Krygier.

“That class talked about how maps have helped us understand the world over time, and at the end it talked about GIS,” Work says. A follow-up class taught her the nitty-gritty of GIS and convinced her of its power. By the time she graduated in 2004 with a triple major in geography, urban studies, and environmental studies, she knew she wanted to pursue a career centered on GIS.

Work was sharp, focused, and fully engaged in learning about GIS, Krygier says, especially in upper-level courses where students used the technology to help map potential pathways for future Delaware bike paths. Eventually, Delaware created new paths based on the students’ work.

“She’s one of those people who has a vision and can see the parts needed to make it happen,” Krygier says. “What Amy got in that class was that there’s a tool that can make big, good things happen.”

After graduating from Syracuse University with a master’s degree in geography in 2006, Work became an education and GIS coordinator at the Institute for the Application of Geospatial Technology, or IAGT, in Auburn, New York. Through her work there she met Anita and Roger Palmer, founders of GISetc, a for-profit company that helps educators learn to use GIS in the classroom.

Beginning in 2009, the Palmers began traveling to the Costa Rican coastal village of Bahia Ballena to introduce GIS to community leaders, in the hopes the technology would help the village transition from a farming-and-fishing economy to a tourism economy. When it became obvious the couple’s yearly visits weren’t enough for the project to prosper, they asked Work to live and work there full-time.

That’s what she’s done since August 2012. She’s funded by Geoporter, a nonprofit organization set up by Work, the Palmers, and two Bahia Ballena community members. It’s designed to send educators around the world to do exactly what Work is doing in Costa Rica: solve local issues with GIS. This is Geoporter’s first project.

A hallmark of Geoporter is helping communities help themselves, Work explains. “The community members are the ones who are doing it,” she says. “The community has the goals and the objectives, and the focus is on getting community members to use the technology themselves.”

Bahia Ballena leaders decided to tackle trash in the streets with the help of GIS. For a decade, trash had been picked up curbside at homes, but in public places, residents tended to toss it on the ground, Work says. As a result, trash ended up in local streams and then in the ocean, reducing the area’s appeal for tourists.

Work suggested mapping where trash was coming from as a first step. In 2013, she and community members collected trash at specific intervals on the road, counted the kinds of trash found there, and mapped the results using GIS. They found a high concentration of candy wrappers outside grocery stores near schools, for example, from students buying candy on their way home. Soccer fields—popular community gathering spots—had food wrappers and bottles.

“Life in Costa Rica revolves around family, church and soccer, so on Sundays the entire town shows up to watch the games. And there were no trash cans near the soccer fields.” – Amy Work ’04

“Life in Costa Rica revolves around family, church, and soccer, so on Sundays the entire town shows up to watch the games,” Work says. “And there were no trash cans near the soccer fields.”

An analysis of the mapped trash produced action within the year: Trash cans with sections for recyclables and sections for non-recyclables were added where they would reduce the most trash, and an education program encouraged residents to use the cans.

Since then, trash in streams has diminished and more is being recycled—exactly what Geoporter was set up to accomplish.

To spread the word about the success and encourage others to embrace the technology, Work turned to her alma mater. She contacted Krygier, who had first taught her GIS, and his new colleague, Nathanael Amador, and asked: Would Ohio Wesleyan students be interested in working with Geoporter?

The idea jelled when Work returned to the states in 2014 to be inducted into the Ohio Wesleyan Athletic Hall of Fame for her starring role on the Battling Bishops’ national title-winning women’s soccer teams of 2001 and 2002. She talked up her GIS project with Ohio Wesleyan President Rock Jones and by 2015, Amador, with Krygier’s help, was offering a travel-learning course to Costa Rica. Such courses are a core element of The OWU Connection, helping students connect classroom learning with real-world practice in global settings.

“I still feel such a connection to the students at Ohio Wesleyan,” Work says. “I wanted them to see what I’m doing with my degree and to instill in students that you can apply your knowledge to anything and, if you have a passion, follow it.”

The proposal had clicked with Amador, an assistant professor of geology and geography who’d begun working at Ohio Wesleyan in 2014. He was teaching Environmental Alterations, a required class for environmental studies majors, and added the Costa Rica portion as an option for additional class credit.

“What Amy does embodies the point of the course, which is how humans impact the environment,” Amador says. “And it ties together the whole idea of being at Ohio Wesleyan, which is that graduation isn’t the end of your involvement with the University community.”

By December 2015, five students, along with Amador and Krygier, were bumping along the mostly unpaved roads of Costa Rica. Each had completed an environmental project centered on the country before their trip, and their 11-day visit expanded on those projects.

“It’s a good model. Our alumni are spread out all over the world, and I’m hoping other travel-learning courses will take advantage of that.” – John Krygier, professor of geology and geography

Madeleine Coalmer ’18 examined the effects of ecotourism, global warming, and climate change on water supplies in Costa Rica. She wanted to find out what could be done in the future to reduce yearly water shortages during the dry season. She soon realized that even her use of water at home in Youngstown, Ohio, could ultimately affect the water supply in Central America.

“When my mom picked me up from the airport after the trip, the first thing I told her was I’m going to be more cautious of how much water I’m using,” she says.

Coalmer also learned how much opportunity her chosen major, geography, can provide.

“Amy’s work shows that you can be successful and flourish with a geography major, and for her to have taken the same classes in the major that I’m taking meant even more,” Coalmer says. “It showed me that I could reach out to others and have connections all over the world.”

Chris Pessell ’18 of Cincinnati had studied the impact of African palm-oil plantations on the soil, water, animals, and plants of Costa Rica. African palms were brought to the country after Costa Rica’s banana-growing industry shut down. While they’ve helped the economy, native mangrove forests have been destroyed to make way for the plantations.

Pessell’s view of the industry changed when he visited a plantation on the trip. He realized he’d inflated its harm to the environment.

“I assumed it was like a tree farm, but there was a carpet of plants under the trees and a ton of different bugs,” he says. As long as the plantations aren’t expanding, he says, it doesn’t appear they’ll do additional damage to the environment.

Pessell particularly enjoyed another trip project: testing water in the Bahia Ballena area to ensure clean drinking water is available. After the trip, he helped map the data and hopes to add more as additional testing is done periodically.

“Development has encroached on the amount of water available,” Work says. “We’re mapping the water quality and the stream flow to understand what’s happening and to ensure that our dirty water is taken care of.”

The work cemented Pessell’s plan to pursue a career in water-quality testing when he graduates with his geography major.

In addition to the palm-oil plantation, students and professors visited two national parks, a bat sanctuary and a pineapple plantation; kayaked through mangrove forests; and took a whale-watching tour (but, unfortunately, saw no whales.)

Interestingly, neither Work nor Amador had opportunities similar to the Costa Rica trip while they were students.

Work’s plans to travel abroad were dashed by 9/11. Instead of traveling, she applied her GIS knowledge on local projects as a student, such as the bike-trail project.

For Amador, plenty of opportunities for study and travel existed at The Ohio State University where he obtained his undergraduate degree, but he had no money to participate.

“I think part of my passion for this is living through the students, letting them take advantage of these opportunities,” he says. “I was interested in getting students to really understand what it means to study this content outside of the classroom and to understand that people are employed doing what you’re learning in this class.”

“We’re mapping the water quality and the stream flow&hellips;to ensure that our dirty water is taken care of.” – Amy Work

The January trip was the second time an Ohio Wesleyan student had visited Work. The first was a year ago, when graduate Christian Gehrke ’15 took a University drone to Bahia Ballena to capture a birds-eye view of the community. The new imagery updated some from 2011 and has a higher resolution. Work will use it to see changes in the environment over time.

“We don’t have the resources to acquire a drone,” she says. “But the student had the technology to help us advance what we’re doing here.”

Krygier hopes the collaboration with Work spurs similar collaborations with OWU alumni.

“It’s a good model,” he says. “Our alumni are spread out all over the world, and I’m hoping other travel-learning courses will take advantage of that.”

In Costa Rica, the link between alumni and OWU continues. Amador visited this summer to take more water samples, and another OWU student took additional aerial photos with a drone.

Work appreciates the extra hands, the equipment and the enthusiasm that students and professors bring to the Geoporter project, but she also sees the collaboration as a way she’s giving back to the University.

“I want to be able to share with students what the University taught me,” she says. “It provided me with the foundation to know that you can learn and do whatever you want to. It shaped me into what I am today.”


Kathy Lynn Gray is a freelance writer from Columbus, OH.

To learn more about the GIS project and travel-learning course, see flickr.com/photos/geoporter/ and geoporter.net, or contact Amy Work at amy@geoporter.net.

Originally published 09/21/2016 in the OWU Magazine.


 

OWU Environmental Studies & Sustainability Progress, Spring 2016

A summary of established and ongoing efforts during 2015-16 in environment and sustainability by Ohio Wesleyan students, staff and faculty as well as off campus collaborators.

Stitched together drone images of central Bahia Ballena-Uvita, Costa Rica. Environmental Studies / Geography Travel Learning Course, Fall 2015.

Environmental Studies & Sustainability Progress, Spring 2016

March 7, 2016

A summary of established and ongoing efforts in environment and sustainability by Ohio Wesleyan students, staff and faculty as well as off campus collaborators. All the projects below are active during the 2015-16 academic year.

OWU Sustainability Plan: Drafted in the spring of 2015 and currently under revision, a comprehensive overview of OWU’s environmental and sustainability efforts with goals for future efforts.

May Move Out donations, May 2015.

May Move Out: A student initiated project in collaboration with Goodwill, to defer usable materials from the trash as students move off campus in May. 9.5 tons of donations collected in the spring of 2015. One year grant funding offset costs for the 2015 May Move Out. Efficiencies initiated by Buildings & Grounds have made the 2016 May Move Out possible without the grant and without additional expenditures over last year’s budget for dumpsters alone. Ohio Wesleyan’s May Move Out program was awarded the 2015 Recycling Award from the Keep Delaware County Beautiful Coalition.

Reusable Food Containers in Hamilton Williams Campus Center: A student project initiated in the fall of 2015 has met with success and is being expanded during the spring of 2016. A new dishwasher was installed in HWCC over the summer, making reusable containers an option. Limitations of OWU’s aging ID Card system and cash registers limit further expansion of the program.

Environmental Studies Mentored Minors: A Food Studies Minor (developed from the Food Course Connection) has been officially proposed to APC (as a collaboration between Health and Human Kinetics [HHK] and Environmental Studies). Two more minors, Sustainability and Climate Science are being developed.

Farm and Food Collaboration: Building on the Food Studies Minor and student interest in gardens, farming and food, OWU faculty in Environmental Studies and HHK are developing a collaboration between Stratford Ecological Center farms and the Methodist School of Ohio farms. Initial efforts will focus on student internships and engagement of OWU in a regional food network. With financial support for staff (donations or grants) campus gardens will be developed. Efforts will focus on the practice of ecologically sound farming, food production, regional food networks and social outreach (building on the existing Cooking Matters Program, organized by Dr. Chris Fink) to engage students and community members in growing food.

Environmental and Sustainability Internships: 10 internships at Stratford Ecological Center and the City of Delaware, spring 2016. Focused on environmental education, marketing, farming, and sustainability.

Amy Work (OWU '06) and Olivia Lease (OWU '17) working with drone imagery, Bahia Uviata, Costa Rica, January '16
Amy Work (OWU ’06) and Olivia Lease (OWU ’17) working with drone imagery, Bahia Ballena-Uvita, Costa Rica, January ’16.

Global Environmental Change Collaboration & Travel Learning Course: OWU collaboration with Amy Work (OWU 2004) and her organization GeoPorter in Bahia Ballena-Uvita, Costa Rica. Learning and using environmental assessment methods in Delaware, Ohio (Fall 2015) and during a travel learning course trip (Geography 347) to coastal Costa Rica (January 2016). Goal: to understand how local environmental data is collected and relates to regional and global climate and environmental change.

Proposed locations for chimney swift towers, near Stuyvesant Hall on the OWU campus.

Chimney Swift Towers: A collaboration between students and OWU Alumni Dick Tuttle (OWU 1973) to build a chimney swift tower on the residential side of campus. Plans have been drawn up and a budget is being developed by a contractor. Funds will be provided by Tuttle. We anticipate construction this summer pending approval from B&G and OWU’s Administration.

Bird feeders near the Schimmel Conrades Science Center on the OWU campus.

Campus Wildlife Habitat Enhancements: Student efforts to install and maintain bird houses, feeders and solitary bee houses on campus.

The Place of Waste: Exploring Asian and Western Perspectives on Waste, Sustainability & Environment. Sagan National Colloquium & Luce Initiative on Asian Studies and the Environment. Funding received from the Luce Foundation and OWU’s Sagan National Colloquium by faculty in East Asian Studies and Environmental Studies to explore the idea of waste in cross cultural context. Funding for a Fall 2015 Symposium and Summer 2015 and 2016 travel to Asia. Next round of funding (up to $400k) to be submitted summer of 2016.

Green Week 2016: Building on a successful water-focused week of events in 2015, students are organizing another week of events for the spring of 2016 (the week prior to Earth Day).

Meek Retention Pond Native Species Planting: A collaboration between students and Friends of the Lower Olentangy Arboretum (FLOW) who have provided funds for the purchase of native plants, shrubs and trees to be planted adjacent to the Meek Aquatic Center retention pond.

Proposal for Delaware run restoration.

Delaware Run Assessment and Restoration: Ongoing student research focused on restoring Delaware Run between Sandusky St. and Henry St. Emerging collaboration with stream restoration specialists who propose restoration of the stream and adjacent riparian zone in return for state of Ohio stream credits. Ongoing hydrogeological assessment, Spring 2016.

“Salamander Swamp” Restoration and Research: Student-driven efforts to rehabilitate a campus wetland (behind the tennis courts on Henry St.). Initial research has focused on environmental assessment of the impact of invasive species in the wetlands area.

Bottled Water Sales Reduction: Student-led efforts to drive down bottled water purchases on campus, including the installation of hydration stations and promotion of reusable water bottles. Chartwells reports declining campus sales for bottled water.

Food Recovery Network: Student-initiated effort to donate unused campus food to lower-income Delaware residents through a clinic nearby campus.

 

Invasive Plant Removal with Goats. Goats!

What if we used voracious megafauna – goats – to remove invasive honeysuckle? Amur honeysuckle is an invasive species covering large areas of the U.S. The plant has significant negative impacts on ecosystems and has been extensively researched. Mechanical removal of honeysuckle is typically recommended as most effective. However, mechanical removal is difficult, time-consuming, and thus costly. Might goats be the answer?

eating honeysuckle 2
Meigan Day and her goat friend in the honeysuckle patch, Fall 2015

Meigan Day
OWU ’16, Botany and Environmental Studies

Amur honeysuckle is an invasive species covering large areas of the U.S. The plant has significant negative impacts on ecosystems and has been extensively researched. Mechanical removal of honeysuckle is typically recommended as most effective. However, mechanical removal is difficult, time-consuming, and thus costly.

What if we used voracious megafauna – goats – to remove the honeysuckle? Inspired by stories of “rent a goat” companies (who offer goats for brush removal) I proposed an experiment to determine if goats prefer the taste of honeysuckle over other native plants. If so, then they could be released into an area to and reduce the amount of labor require to remove honeysuckle.

Methods for the removal and eradication of honeysuckle have been studied: herbicide application and removal by a biological agents are the most common. Ultimately, mechanical removal is typically recommended. Research also suggests the time of year to remove the honeysuckle, how to keep it from returning, how it affects local water quality, and to what extent it affects the biodiversity of an area.

Honeysuckle significantly disrupts the biodiversity of forests but there are few people willing to dedicate their time to eradicating this invasive plant. Love et al. determined that between cutting, mechanical removal, stump application of herbicide, and foliar application of herbicide the most effective method was mechanical removal. This is accomplished by pulling smaller shrubs by hand, or with a Pulaski if they became too big. Mechanical removal is the most labor intensive method for removing honeysuckle and is the second highest in cost due to the need to pay workers.

Amur Honeysuckle

Honeysuckle is tagged as an invasive species in many regions and can be found in eastern Asia and North America. The honeysuckle examined throughout this study is Lonicera maackii, also known as Amur honeysuckle, which appears as a large shrub that can grow 6 meters tall. It was introduced into many areas as an ornamental plant used for its flowers and hedge qualities. The overpopulation of Amur honeysuckle is known to destroy many native species coverage and fitness. This shrub does well in the shady habitat of a forest understory and on the forest edge where it grows very fast and out-competes native plants for resources, especially when it is the first greening species in the spring and the last to lose its leaves in the fall. Amur honeysuckle spreads throughout an area by the means root systems and seed dispersion. It produces bright red berries that hold numerous seeds and are eaten by birds that eventually disperse the seeds in their droppings.

eating blackberry

The Toggenburg Goats of Stratford Ecological Center

I performed my experiments at the Stratford Ecological Center, south of Delaware, Ohio using their herd of Toggenburg goats.

If the Toggenburg goats used did prefer to eat honeysuckle over other vegetation the efforts to remove honeysuckle would require less manual labor. The plant species made available to the goats were Amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii), winged euonymus (Euonymus alatus), privet (Ligustrum), willow (Salix), beech (Fagus grandifolia), and maple (Acer saccharum).

These species were selected because Amur honeysuckle, winged euonymus, and privet are all known invasive species of Ohio and the native species selected were some of the few that still held leaves in the mid to late Fall. The three experiments were conducted on October 30th, November 5th, and November 12th 2015 and all of the plant samples were collected the day before feeding. Because the timing is later into the fall season many of the native plants had begun to brown and lose their leaves while the Amur honeysuckle and other invasive plant’s leaves remained green longer into the season. This was to promote the best conditions when honeysuckle would be found more favorable than the other species present.

Experiment 1: Taste Test

Goats are browsers that eat the foliage off vegetation, so in the first experiment the leaves of each species were pulled from the branch and placed into 5 liter feeding containers randomly placed throughout a barn pen. Female goats ranging in age were brought into the pen one at a time and given the chance to eat from the containers as they pleased. The goats eating behavior was categorized as either:

  • sniffed and moved on
  • tried and moved on
  • liked (ate for extended period of time)
  • returned (after leaving and eating another species)
  • favored (showed more interest than liked)

After five goats were brought through the pen one at a time the conclusion was that out of the six species of foliage available honeysuckle and winged euonymus were the most favored. Overall the invasive species were liked more than the natives, which were frequently tried and then passed by.

Following the same procedure with the foliage of each species in a 5 liter container, 2 goats were released into the pen at one time. It was clear that the goats were influenced by what the other goat had liked. If one goat would show any interest for a species the other would immediately join and eat it for at least a short period of time. Even with the two goats in the pen they showed preferences identical to each other and similar conclusion of the individual goats. The two goats appeared to favor honeysuckle but continued to return to winged euonymus; liked privet and beech equally; liked willow the least; both goats tried and moved past maple.

Experiment Two: Browsing Preferences

To continue controlled conditions in order to easily observe what the goats are showing preference for eating, for the next experiment whole branches of each species were collected and tied up to hang from the pen walls. The containers used in the previous experiment were familiar to the goats for holding food Hanging vegetation would give a more realistic comparison to forest browsing. Maple was not available for the duration of the experiments because it was difficult to collect a large enough sample due to leaf loses.

Five different goats were taken into the pen one at a time and none showed significant trends of preference. All of the goats displayed similar patterns of remaining at the first species that had been chosen and occasionally changing to a different species, trying them all in relatively equal amounts. After the first five goats were observed they were released back into the pen all at one time.

Because of the high demand for the plants the goats would begin at different species, with one or two goats sharing a particular sample. Overall the goats showed good browsing tendencies by walking around and eating all species that were available.

Experiment 3: Goats in the Field

A single goat was placed on a lead and taken to a nearby forest area. The area that was chosen had honeysuckle 2 meters tall and the size of shrubs as well as goldenrod and black berry that no longer held many berries left. Only one goat was taken because none of other the goats were accustomed to being on a lead and are not easily walked to destinations far from the barn. The goat showed no true preference for any of the species available and moved from one plant to the next without showing much real interest.

This final experiment suggests that goats (or at least the one goat tested!) are not useful biological agents for eradicating honeysuckle, to the extent that they don’t distinguish between honeysuckle and non-invasive species. Honeysuckle appeared to give no taste benefit to the goats in order to increase their favorability. Goats are known for having a palate for taste similar to a human. They avoid foliage that has high concentrations of tannins that give a bitter taste and prefer vegetation that produce berries. On the other hand honeysuckle is known for creating extremely dense thickets and this research suggests that goats would be useful to cutback these overgrown areas. Once the goats have reduced the vegetation people would be able to access the area and manually remove the honeysuckle. Alternatively, repeated early spring and late summer goat assaults on the early and late leafing honeysuckle might slow, stunt or possibly kill honeysuckle. More research is required.

Discussion

These experiments were conducted with the help of Stratford Ecological Center for providing the goats and the land. Bob Harter, the invasive species management team leader, had high hopes that these experiments to show that goats preferred to eat honeysuckle because his team consisted of only two people. They were available to assist Bob pulling invasive species only a few hours a week at a 236 acre state reserve. Forming an alliance with the goats could only help. The director and farmer of the facility, Jeff Dickinson, was in fact surprised by how much the goats ate the honeysuckle equally to the other foliage that was provided. From his previous experience the goats had always shown avoidance for honeysuckle. With this new information there are future plans to use the goats to cut back the overgrown vegetation in an area on the state reserve that is bursting with honeysuckle. Once the goats have cut back the vegetation, volunteers can continue to remove the honeysuckle on the property and further restore biodiversity of the forest.

Reference

Love, Jason P., and James T. Anderson. “Seasonal effects of four control methods on the invasive Morrow’s honeysuckle (Lonicera morrowii) and initial responses of understory plants in a southwestern Pennsylvania old field.” Restoration Ecology 17.4 (2009): 549-559.