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Campus Pond

March 17, 2014

Campus Pond a Beacon for Wildlife
By Jeremy Guinn, UTTC Environmental Science Instructor
            A light mist rises from its surface as students file by on the early morning walk to class during the final weeks of spring semester.  Many are not consciously aware of the natural wonder just beyond the edge of the sidewalk. Somewhere inside, the sights, sounds and smells connect with the soul, making the day a little brighter and a bit easier.
            Some students have learned to see, and to hear and smell. Though they may not know the names of all the plants and animals, these students are blessed because they have learned to recognize the splendor of nature surrounding us every day. This secret will benefit them the rest of their lives.
            Located on the periphery of the city, United Tribes is blessed with natural areas and diversity of habitat on campus. Mature trees are home to squirrels, woodpeckers, Cooper’s hawks, and even small falcons. Rows of shrubs provide shelter for cottontails, songbirds and deer. The open grasslands provide habitat for pheasants, jackrabbits, red-tailed hawks and bald eagles. And foremost among all is our campus pond, a beacon for wildlife.
            The pond offers shallow, protected water, which is rare in this area. It serves as an important migration stop-over for a number of migrating species including Canada geese, mergansers and a variety of ducks. In the shallows, leopard frogs and chorus frogs sing to us all. Along its margins, cattails and reeds provide abundant nesting habitat for native songbirds. Tracks in the mud tell the story of all sorts of animals stopping in for a drink after sundown. UTTC science programs use the pond for research, water sampling labs and wildlife identification activities.
            Less than 10 percent of the nation’s wetlands remain. While some just see a wet area that should be filled, more people are learning that our wetlands, especially those in urban settings, have an important role. Besides wildlife habitat and aesthetics, these ecosystems provide improved water quality, water storage, flood protection and erosion control.
            As part of a partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, UTTC students have designed a kiosk that will display this information at the pond for public view. In the future it will be a stop-out on the United Tribes Trial, the multi-use pathway that skirts the perimeter of the established campus and will one day guide visitors around the newer south campus.
            In science courses, a community is defined as different species living in an area. The campus pond is an integral part of the United Tribes campus community, serving as a reservoir for wild animals during harsh environmental times and stimulating the outdoor experience for students, employees and visitors.
            Next time you’re near the Science and Technology building, take a closer look at your campus pond and see if you don’t sense a new connection. Better yet, go out of your way and make a visit there as part of your day. You’ll be rewarded for it.

Natural life photographed on the United Tribes campus.

Campus pond – Jeremy Guinn

Cooper’s Hawk – Dennis J. Neumann

Hooded Mergansers on campus pond – Jeremy Guinn

Killdeer – Jeremy Guinn

Red-tailed Hawk – Jeremy Guinn

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