Campus oasis brings classes to life at Lone Star College-North Harris
Recent additions to the Lone Star College-North Harris Nature Area have created new student interest in educational opportunities.
The nature center itself was created more than 10 years ago but recently acquired a butterfly garden and a pond constructed by aspiring Eagle Scouts.
"In the past, there was very little budget for maintenance and upkeep of the biology Nature Area," said Lorey Wing, biology science lab coordinator at LSC-North Harris, in the press release. "Our biology faculty would enlist students to weed and help maintain the area, but it eventually got to be too much to handle."
Despite the lack of maintenance, the nature center was still being used for classes and educational purposes. Soon Lorey Wing and biology faculty Mary Durant, Shelley Penrod and Kara Hagenbuch formed the Math and Natural Sciences Garden Committee.
"We began talking about adding a butterfly garden behind the pond. Kara and I wrote a mini-grant asking for funds to purchase landscape design, which was ultimately approved," Wing said in the press release.
Not only were the pond and butterfly garden installed, but an area for native grasses and wildflowers was also added to the bog area.
Now this relatively small nature reserve has a thriving ecosystem and hosts multiple daily college activities.
"Our focus is always to help students succeed," said Dr. Steve Head, college president, in the press release. "Creating an atmosphere that engages our students and where they enjoy spending their time goes a long way toward accomplishing that goal."
The Biology Department incorporates the nature area into the classroom and occasionally involves the collection of certain species for observation.
"It gives us a chance to teach students about plants and animals in a much more engaging way. Seeing a plant designed to catch insects or a caterpillar hatch into a butterfly adds a lot to the classroom experience," said biology professor Shelley Penrod, in the press release. She went on to say: "We've observed at least 10 species of butterflies, as well as dragonfly nymphs. The pond is home to American bullfrogs, leopard frogs, red-eared sliders and now goldfish. There are quite a few bird visitors including mockingbirds, cardinals and sparrows."
Other departments also utilize the nature area. Photography and art students use the area for subject matter or inspiration, and many students visit the area to relieve stress.
"It has really been a joint effort across the college and at all levels," Penrod added in the press release. "From our grounds and maintenance departments which assisted with the irrigation installation and built benches for the area, to our president who is committed to creating natural spaces on campus, none of this would have happened without the combined efforts of all of them."
Lone Star College-North Harris is located at 2700 W.W. Thorne Drive.
For more information, call 281-618-5400 or visit lonestar.edu/northharris.
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