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Environmental Studies: Sustainable Forests and Watersheds

Program dates: June 16-19, 2019

Program cost: $680

Includes lodging, all meals and any field trips.

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Course description

There is nothing better than a walk through the quietness of a green forest or a stroll alongside a gurgling stream. Direct contact with and interactions with nature are vital to human health. Underneath these peaceful surfaces, though, there is an ecosystem full of complex and interacting processes. These ecosystems interact with human populations. How can we tell if these ecosystems are healthy? How do we reconnect people with these natural systems?

In this course, you will measure the biological diversity and other ecosystem services of forests and watersheds and learn how to use these data to understand ecosystem health. Plan to get your hands dirty and your feet wet as we explore the environment together (digging for mussels in the Mississippi River, climbing over logs to take tree measurements, wading in streams to take samples). 

Required supplies: A hat, hiking boots, rubber boots to wear in the streams, and long sleeved shirts and long pants to protect against poison ivy and insects.

Tentative schedule

Sunday, June 16: Check-in and Welcome

Monday, June 17: Forest diversity and forest health

  • Ecosystem change in Illinois forests (lecture)
  • Tree identification
  • Using the Point Quarter method
  • Understanding people’s attitudes towards forests and restoration 
  • Data collection

Tuesday, June 18: Watershed health

  • Ecosystem change in urban streams (lecture)
  • Collect invertebrates and water samples
  • Lab work on water chemistry and identification 
  • Understanding people’s attitudes towards watersheds

Wednesday, June 19: Health Assessment of Forests and Watersheds 

  • Data analysis
  • Data interpretation & management implications
  • Results of the health check-up-what did we find”
  • Discussion and wrap up of both modules: Healthy Ecosystems in the Anthropocene

Instructors: Dr. Geedy and Dr. Reisner

Dr. Geedey is a professor of biology and has spent more than two decades trying to understand how aquatic ecosystems function.

Dr. Reisner is a professor of environmental studies and Director of the Upper Mississippi Center for Sustainable Communities. He has more than a decade of experience practicing environmental and natural resources law and researching the drivers of terrestrial ecosystem resilience to stress and disturbances.