Environmental biology students at UW-Eau Claire – County Barron have just completed a course in which they learned about native plants by collecting seeds and planting pollinator gardens on campus, led by the instructor David Caithamer. “Dr. Dave,” as they call him, focused the course on service learning and pollinators.
Students collected native flower seeds from the restored prairie and rain gardens on campus. They used many of these seeds to plant several new pollinator gardens on campus. They have also partnered with the Rice Lake Public Library and the Cable Natural History Museum to each provide 100 seed envelopes to give to their patrons.
In addition, the students have written texts for interpretive signs or brochures which they will hand out to the Rice Lake Public Library, which recently created its own garden for pollinators. The library may end up using these signs or brochures in the future.
The instructor said the students have also been active in several smaller projects. In one project, they made observations along sections of the Rice Lake recreational trails and reported their findings to Craig Fowler, who is working with the city and the Rotary Club to make improvements to the trail system.
In another activity, students picked up trash at Narrows Park in Rice Lake. The students also cleared away the weeds that invaded the area around the main campus sign and Northwood Technical College.
Students enrolled in the course earn college credit and up to 30 hours of service learning, which is required to earn an associate degree. Students can also use these hours to meet the service learning requirements of a bachelor’s degree at the main campus of Eau Claire.
“The main takeaway from the laboratory portion of Dr Dave’s course is that it is not extremely difficult to help restore natural habitats that had previously been lost,” said Adam Einum. “No special equipment is needed, just a working knowledge of plants and a strong pair of hands ready to do the job. “
Aryn Lipke said, “The most important thing I learned from this course is knowing how pollinators benefit. One way to do this is to plant a pollinator garden. My classmates and I planted several of them on campus, and it was a simple process that could have a big impact.
“I’ve learned that work goes a lot faster if you work as a team,” said Milan Monchilovich. “Give each one an individual mission; this will accomplish the overall task as efficiently as possible. I also learned how to collect several native seeds and prepare a seed bed for planting them.
Ethan Thom said, “University is often seen as a barrier to overcome, but I don’t see it that way. College at the end of the day is an opportunity, and no other class compared to Dr Dave’s has reinforced that to me more. Environmental bio gives me the opportunity to learn naturally by interacting with the environment rather than being tied to a chair, my eyes riveted on a screen, which in these times to stay indoors and hide. of his neighbor is terribly welcome.
“When I first started taking this course, I knew very little about the importance of land conservation and the important and native types of plants in Wisconsin,” said Elizabeth Kubnick. “Throughout my semester with Dr. Dave, I have learned to understand which native species are good for the environment in which I live. I learned to figure out what plant species I see, which pollinators are important, and how, as an individual, I can help endangered pollinators. Finally, I understood the importance of safety and feedback for Rice Lake’s public trails and what can be done to improve it, as well as adding some structures that can benefit everyone.