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Remember: A day in my life as a Muhlenberg Student @ Raker Reserve

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A day in my life as a Muhlenberg Student @ Raker Reserve

Trust me, I count my lucky stars everyday when I walk to campus and go to class.  After spending three years in dire financial straits and sickness, each day I spend as a Muhlenberg student is a genuine gift and I try to make certain that I love every second of it.

The education I am receiving at Muhlenberg is incredible.  Nearly every subject covered in every class I have taken since becoming a Muhlenberg student has been directly applicable to the world outside of campus.  My education has made me a much better environmental blogger and has afforded me the needed learning and experience to offer a genuine and informed voice regarding the environmental issues the Lehigh Valley is facing.

Yesterday, my Environmental Science class headed to the Conrad W Raker Reserve.  The reserve is described on Muhlenberg’s website as: “The Conrad W. Raker Biological Field Station and Wildlife Sanctuary, a 40-acre wooded tract situated 15 miles north of the campus, in Germansville, PA, is used by biology classes for field study. A section of Jordan Creek within the preserve provides added opportunity for aquatic biology studies. Students and staff also conduct research on varied aspects of plant and animal biology.” This reserve is not open to the public.  It exists solely for study and observation for the science department at the college.

My class is taught by Dr.Jason Kelsey. 

I consider myself extremely fortunate to be taught by a man as informed and knowledgeable as Dr. Kelsey.  He is a man I afford the highest respect to and his education has helped me make Remember better.

In addition to Dr. Kelsey, we were joined on our field trip by Dr. David Mcguire. Some of you may know Doc from his work at all levels of local government, his work on Allentown’s EAC and his work for the local chapter of The Sierra Club which I coincidentally finally just joined myself. You should join to, click here to check out the website. If you join now you can get an awesome John Muir rucksack.

Doc is another man who I am lucky to know.  The conversations I have shared with him, and the journeys we have taken together into the wild places of the Lehigh Valley have been some of the most intellectually refreshing trips of my life.  I have an incredible amount of respect for Dr. McGuire, and he more than deserves it.
DSCN1600 (Amanda took that one, as I am obviously in it)

We began our journey into the Raker Reserve with the intention of conducting an environmental survey of the area for the hypothetical creation of a strip mall in an open space of land at the heart of the Reserve.

Around our feet, we were able to see an incredible variety of habitats.  Near to the creek were wetlands, farther up the forest grew slightly thicker and bore the tell-tale sings of a recent succesional deciduous forest.  In addition, meadows preserved for research, offered another large swath of habitat for observation.

My classmates tromped around the forest scribbling observations on notebook paper. Dr. Kelsey pointed out some fantastic fungus and suspected lichen population on the bark of a tree.
Spring was awakening all across the Reserve.
At the top of a ridge, the boundaries of the Reserve are buffeted by farmland.  The nearby town of Germansville (apparently pronounced gur-mansville not ger-mansville), is a typical, bucolic country town with actual farmers still farming!

We made our way back down towards the Jordan Creek, following an incredibly slippery and almost steep slope.  Initially my classmate Chelsea was less than keen to attempt the journey.  Eventually, she found another route and joined us creekside.

DSCN1590 DSCN1588 Dr. Kelsey continued informing us about the complexities of the things we were viewing as we began to head back to the van. 
We found a dead groundhog. Kit poked it with a stick to see if it was in fact dead.
Amanda was really interested in dissecting it. (Or she was masking mourning with biology)
A year ago, I was most likely beginning my usual closing shift at the worst job I have had yet in my life.  Today, I was able to step into a 40 acre piece of wilderness and learn from two of the smartest men I have known with a group of engaged and engaging scientists-in- training that I am glad to call colleagues.  

Things certainly have changed folks, I can’t even begin to grasp how greatly.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Andrew,
We're so glad you are feeling better. Muhlenberg is a fantastic school and your professors sound wonderful and challenging. Couldn't you possibly take the class to the Parkway and show them that row of dying trees? Perhaps your youth and intelligence, coupled with your professors knowledge and influence, could make a positive change in this dire situation.

March 30, 2010 at 10:38 AM  
Blogger Jacy said...

I had Dr. Kelsey the first semester of my freshman year. At first I kind of hated him, because he wasn't the stereotypical hippie environmentalist I was hoping for, and he made us work so hard! But I took environmental science 2 the next semester and learned to appreciate the amazingness of his class. I'm glad you're enjoying it, and very jealous of your enjoying it. I want to do it again.

March 30, 2010 at 9:44 PM  

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