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Fall 2017 Service Learning Highlights

Over 400 IUPUI students and faculty participated in CEES's service learning program, working to maintain and restore natural areas at Eagle's Crest, Starling Nature Sanctuary, Holliday Park, Sodalis Park, Oaklandon, Fall Creek, and the Lilly ARBOR. In keeping with tradition, most projects focused on removal of Amur Bush Honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii). An aggressive invasive species with an ability to spread rapidly, bush honeysuckle is a problem throughout central and eastern regions of the United States, and only extensive (and recurring) efforts keep the shrub in check.

Dense growth of bush honeysuckle along White Lick Creek at Sodalis Park. (Photograph by V. Schmalhofer)

 

Another reason to focus on invasive species removals: students enjoy lopping honeysuckle. They maintain that the activity is quite therapeutic . . . . especially near exam time.

 

Bottom and top left: Students show off their "trophy" honeysuckle - pulled out by the roots! Top right: Over-enthusiastic honeysuckle lopping results in critical damage to the loppers - but the honeysuckle did not survive the encounter. (Photographs by V. Schmalhofer.)

 

In addition to venting the collective ire of exam-stressed students on invasive shrubs, fall service learning projects allowed participants to engage in collection and sowing of native forbs and grasses (Holliday Park) and wetland restoration (removal of an overgrowth of cattails at Oaklandon School).

  

Gathering of native seed from healthy, open forests at Holliday Park. These seeds were later sowed in other areas of the park in need of restoration work. (Photograph by V. Schmalhofer.)

 

 

Students thin a dense stand of cattails (Typha latifolia) at Oaklandon School (top left). Cattails had become so dense that the pond was no longer visible from the viewing deck: the viewing deck area before (top right), during (bottom left), and after (bottom right) the service learning project at Oaklandon. (Photographs by V. Schmalhofer.)

 

Extensive spring flooding of the White River deposited a great deal of debris throughout the Lilly ARBOR, so a service project was dedicated to removing much of this material from the riparian forest. Trash pick up is generally a part of every service learning event, but this situation demanded a more concerted effort. Students hauled out some very large items - including a storage drum and a piece of floating dock - as well as dozens of bags of recyclables.

Lilly ARBOR at the New York Street bridge. (Photograph by V. Schmalhofer.)

Lilly ARBOR just south of the Michigan Street bridge. (Photograph by V. Schmalhofer.)

 

Students haul out small pieces of trash by the bagload (left). Removing some of the larger items (right) is a joint effort. (Photographs by V. Schmalhofer.)

 

Three Themed Learning Communities scheduled special service learning projects that allowed the entire class to participate as a group: Root of Disease, Service Through Engineering Design, and Sustainability.

 

Themed Learning Communities Root of Disease (left) and Service Through Engineering Design (right) tackled invasive honeysuckle at the Lilly ARBOR. (Photographs by V. Schmalhofer.)

 

As always, the Service Learning experience included more than just the service component. Selected work sites enabled IUPUI students to explore natural areas within the greater Indianapolis area. Students enjoyed the Eagle Creek mudflats at Starling, high views from Eagle's Crest, and fall colors at Holliday Park. There were, of course, interesting flora and fauna (and fungi!) to investigate. Highlights from this past fall included giant puffball mushrooms, a black-and-yellow orb weaver, deer rubs, and monkey brain fruits. Students also learned the value of teamwork.

 

During the Starling project, students took a break to the view the Eagle Creek mudflats (left) and enjoy the autumn colors along the trail (right). (Photographs by V. Schmalhofer.)

 

Fall foliage at Starling (left) and Holliday Park (right). (Photographs by V. Schmalhofer.)

 

Giant puffballs (Calvatia gigantea) were found at Starling (left). At Eagle's Crest, a short hike led to a fantastic view from the Overlook (right). (Photographs by V. Schmalhofer.)

 

Students found fruits of osage orange trees (Maclura pomifera, left) at multiple work sites, and, of course, we had to cut one open (right). Interestingly, the softball-sized fruit - commonly known as "monkey brain fruit" - floats, so seeds may be water-dispersed. Although it now occurs throughout most of the continental United States, this native tree formerly had a much more restricted distribution; it was widely planted in colonial times because the dense, rot-resistant wood was favored for fences, tool handles, and other implements. (Photographs by V. Schmalhofer.)

 

A female black-and-yellow orb weaver (Argiope aurantia) spun her web in a drainage channel at the ARBOR (left). In the process of rubbing the velvet off their new antlers, male white tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) left distinct damage patterns (right) on the trees they used. (Photographs by V. Schmalhofer.)

Eagle's Crest participants join together to free a student's car from the mud. (Photograph by V. Schmalhofer.)

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