With the coming of spring, students enjoy the Conococheague Creek for leisure activities. But, they also litter without realizing the far-reaching, ecological impact of their actions on the Chesapeake Bay. Asst. Prof. of Environmental Studies, Edward Wells challenges his Ecological Perspectives class to think locally as they develop semester-long, senior projects to improve the Bay’s declining health.
Most of the students chose a subject relating to water quality as their research topic. Tina Brown ’12 is interested in pharmaceutical waste and its consequences for the Bay’s ecology. “Even common medication, like ibuprofen, doesn’t get filtered out of our water during treatment. It is passed into local streams and then goes into the Bay,” says Brown.
“I like students to do real world things, to get involved in real issues and their community, not to just write a paper and then forget about the topic,” says Wells.
Student projects for the Ecological Perspectives class:
"Pharmaceutical Waste as a Water Pollutant," by Tina Brown
"Ecological Impact of the Menhaden Fish," by Alicia Mills ’12
"Non-point Source Run-off and EPA Guidelines," by Davison Mayer
"High quality Trout Streams vs. Stocked Trout Streams," by Katie Reis ’12
"Water Study before and after Dam Removal by Amanda," by Amanda Kegerreis
"Chesapeake Education Plan for Pennsylvania Students," by Lois Collingwood
Difficult Projects Have Lasting Impact
Students admit difficulties in starting their projects. “Just finding resources is tough,” says Alicia Mills ‘12. Her goal is to make the public aware of an obscure, but very useful fish called menhaden.
Despite the challenges, the students appreciate their work’s value. Lois Collingwood ’12 intends to gain experience for her future career in education. She is developing an education plan for Pa. schools. “Lessons exist for the Bay now, but they come from Maryland. Pennsylvania requires a different standard,” she says.
Students Choose Relatable Projects
Wells allowed his class to choose the ecological area for study. “Everyone agreed on the Chesapeake Bay. I didn’t have much experience with the Bay, but I knew that it had many impacts, like education, legislation, and pollution. The students would be able to focus their projects based on their individual interests,” says Wells.