Lake Johanna Shoreline Restoration
Over the past year, the Northwestern Biology students have had the opportunity to work with the Ramsey Conservation District on a restoration project of the shoreline of Lake Johanna. Projects like this frequently arise on Northwestern campus, presenting unique opportunities for Biology students.
Biology professors often jump on the environmental opportunities such as the restoration of Lake Johanna’s shoreline and give their students a chance to see what environmental work looks like in the real world. Biology Associate Joel Light and Dr. Dale Gentry like to use the natural areas on campus as an outdoor laboratory for classes and for research projects, Light said. In fact, his Field Biology course is taught almost exclusively in those natural areas on campus and in the community.
Each environmental project lets students perform new activities and develop their skills in many different areas. For instance, the Lake Johanna project called for the students to install more than 40 species of native plants, erosion control products, and soil lifts to create a more stable shoreline. They also restored areas of emergent, transitional, and upland plant communities, which is expected to reduce phosphorus entering Lake Johanna by over an estimated ten pounds per year and soils and sediment by over 12 tons per year.
“We teach students that God has given us the role of steward over the creation which ultimately belongs to him,” Light said. "Having students get involved with this hands-on work allows students to carry out this call in a real way and exposes them to ways in which we can care for the creation. It makes the concepts that we cover in our classes more real for the students. They can directly see the fruits of their labor.”
We are all stewards of God's creation, and getting students involved in projects allows students to see why science and environmental work is important for Christians to be involved in, according to Light.
Northwestern gives blossoming Biology students the chance to work with God's creation hands-on in ways that might not have been presented elsewhere. "We are fortunate to be blessed with the natural resources we have being a suburban campus," Light said. "Most other small schools in the area do not have directs access to this natural wealth on their very own campuses. These areas become very valuable to our programs and any of the community members in our campus community as well as the surrounding communities."