Northeastern Section - 50th Annual Meeting (23–25 March 2015)

Paper No. 5
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM


NORD, Julia A., Atmospheric, Oceanic and Earth Science, George Mason University, 4400 University Drive, MSN 5F2, Fairfax, VA 22030 and WOOD, Thomas C., New Century College, George Mason University, 4400 University Drive, MSN 5D3, Fairfax, VA 22030,

This two-week experience has been developed as a multidisciplinary, experiential, service-learning course taught on-site at Environmental Studies on the Piedmont (ES), a research, education and conservation organization headquartered on a 914 acre field station in the Northern Piedmont, Virginia, It is co-taught by a biologist and geologist. Students are expected to participate fully as a team-member, simulating the professional expectations of a group employed to construct wildlife habitats. They develop an understanding of the needs and methods of creating and maintaining a diversity of habitats in keeping with the mission of ES by: an introduction to “nature awareness” and the animals and plants that inhabit various ecosystems at ES; developing the skills of basic map making and use of surveying equipment (pace and compass, transits, GPS); and creating and implementing a final project to maintain existing, or constructing new habitats. Students complete daily mapping projects and math sets, investigate the local ecosystems, and maintain a daily field-note book with both “front-line” and “reflective” journaling. In teams, working with the field station staff, they then design projects that enhance a wildlife habitat at ES, and complete the site work. Finally they present on their endeavors, mistakes and solutions, and strategies for future projects. We hypothesize that students will self identify increased interest, capacity and ability to apply their canonical knowledge and consequently improve understanding and retention of that knowledge.