Final Reflection

The highlight of my ENR experience was without a doubt the people I’ve met along the way. Our scholars group is fortunate enough to be filled with many like-minded people who all happen to get along well. I’ve been able to develop relationships with people vertically and horizontally, which is something I really value. Being a member of this group, I’ve learned the many aspects of what it means to be sustainable. Being mindful of this is important and it is something that everyone should consider looking into.

My spring of 2017 project was again the Fawcett center. This semester, I was able to do much more in the Fawcett center to improve the area. I participated in invasive species removal (mainly Callery Pear and Honeysuckle) as well a tree planting session which opens the area up to more native species, ideally returning it to a more natural state. From this project, I learned that making a big impact on an ecosystem is both much harder and much easier than you would expect. Damaging an area can be done with a small amount of careless acts, and making it right again can be very difficult.

For those who will be new to the ENR program, my advice would be to get out of your comfort zone and try new things. It can be difficult at first, but learning and experiencing new things is what produces real growth. In this case, the benefits of your experience in ENR far outweigh the nervousness and risk you might perceive.

Impero Coffee

Second Year Project (Semester 2)

My second semester project will remain focused on the Fawcett. This semester we are determined to make an impact on the area by continuing many of the tasks we’ve done throughout the year. For example, continuing to monitor the young trees that were planted last spring. Measuring the survival rate of the saplings after the first winter should be a good indicator of what we can expect to see in the future. I’m hopeful that the work we did last year pays off. The Fawcett center was unfortunately also home to a large number of invasive species such as honeysuckle which we attempted to remove. This is an unfortunate circumstance, because these invasive species are incredibly aggressive in their suppression of natives of the are. Planting the trees in the first place will benefit the Fawcett center by improving the local ecosystem with support of native species.

This ecosystem is fragile at this point, and so it is important that we handle it with care. Taking care of trees isn’t necessarily very exciting, but, doing this work now means that it will not be a larger problem in the future. This project has a heavy focus on service, which is important to me. I hope to complete much more service than this over the summer through my STEP program. This is a good starting point for me, and will also provide a lot of benefits to the Fawcett center. In many ways, this project is a service learning experience. I hope to learn some basic management skills through the experience which I could use in a career in natural resource management.

Final Reflection

Our project on the Fawcett Center is one which is ongoing. The end goal of the project is to positively influence the Fawcett Center ecosystem. We planned on doing this through removing invasive species such as honeysuckle and  callery pear, but we were met with one problem in the form of an avian research project which is also ongoing in that area. This led us to change the main purpose of the project. Instead of removing species, we planned on maintaining the current native woody vegetation which was planted last year. This could be done in the form of us tagging trees in hopes of recording how many sapling survive to hopefully reach maturity. This was also problematic, as we didn’t get a good start on this until winter had already begun.

We committed two afternoons (for a combined of about 8 hours) plus several hours of online research to finding saplings and surveying the area for native woody vegetation. Additionally, through research done at home, we’ve found that the honeysuckle that we worked hard to remove last year may end up coming back regardless. Apparently the plant is difficult to kill, unless the entire root system is removed from the ground. Overall, I would say that there is still much work to be done in the Fawcett center. Some of this will have to done in the spring, such as checking the survival rate of the saplings. It’s disappointing that we did not make as much of an impact as we had hoped, but continuing to work in the area should prove rewarding. If we were to do it again, we would obviously respect the avian research project by not removing plants. We should have focused more on adding good vegetation than removing invasive species which will probably remain regardless.

Overall, I would say that we had a lackluster start to the project, which was difficult to avoid given the unknowns. It is not a project that cannot be salvaged, however. I hope to find more effective ways to impact the area. We definitely need to be in better communication with other groups doing research in the area, and commit more time to the area.


Mid-Semester Check-In

The Fawcett center project is only recently getting started this year because of some unexpected problems concerning the area. Apparently, the Fawcett Center region has been the focus of an avian research project, and removing any more large trees from that region will impact the results. From what we know now, however, we are still able to plant new trees and shrubs in the area. Because of this, we will no longer be removing large invasive species.

Instead, we will be focusing more on tagging existing trees that were planted last year or recently. Tagging trees that were recently planted is important so that we can observe how many saplings survive the winter and will hopefully make it to maturity in the future. This task will require us to communicate with the current research project in the area in order to ensure that the work that we are doing will not affect any of the work that they are doing. After connecting with them and clearing the actions that we are going to take, we will spend several days working on tagging trees and possibly planting more native species in the area. We are also considering doing some work on the surrounding area that is not included in the avian research project.

I believe that we can tag nearly all of the new trees in the hours that we spend at the Fawcett Center. In doing this we can gather a lot of useful information on the mortality rate of these saplings and what areas are better for their survival. Although this project is different from what we originally planned to do at the Fawcett Center, it is still important and still gives us the opportunity to get outside and directly affect the ecosystem in  a positive way. This, after all, is the main goal of the project.fawcett-center

2nd Year Project

For my second year project, I plan to participate with the Fawcett Center. The Fawcett center has been in the process of repairing the riparian ecosystem that exists in the area, and invites volunteers to help with the project. Last year I participated through ENR several times by removing invasive species and also restoring native trees to the area. I removed dozens of invasive Honeysuckle plants and, with the help of all the volunteers, planted more than 2,000 new trees in the area. I had a lot of fun in the process, and I plan to continue my work with the Fawcett Center.

The Fawcett center asks for the help of hundreds of volunteers, and they will be a main benefactors of the project. However, the ecosystem is truly the purpose of the project. Riparian ecosystems are especially delicate and complex. They are very important to preserve, and so, a huge effort is being made to do so with the Fawcett Center. I did a similar project to this during my senior capstone project in high school, and I look forward to enriching my prior knowledge. I believe that participating in this particular project will benefit me in my studies, as I’m currently in the process of declaring my major as natural resource management. Taking a hands on role with the conservation of an incredibly unique ecosystem is an excellent first step in my studies. I plan to use this experience to get my foot in the door for a possible internship that I will participate in with my Second year Transformational Experience Project (STEP).

From this experience, I hope to better grasp what sort of work that ecosystem restoration and natural resource management majors will participate in. More importantly, I hope to develop a deeper involvement with ecosystems and their management in order to lay a foundation for a future career.

Year In Review

This year at Ohio State has been tumultuous at the very least. Many things about my life has changed, including where I live and how I choose to live there. Moving into a new environment forces you to make your own decisions, and these decisions often define what is important to you. These values are deeply rooted, and should reflect the very best qualities in yourself. Throughout this year as a student, I’ve learned more about what is important to me and what I value most.

Being a member of ENR scholars excited me from the start, but experiencing it made a difference in me. I truly enjoyed what we did as a group and the lessons we learn. I expected the program to be more like an environmental science class from the beginning, but I was quickly shown otherwise. Instead of a class, being a part of scholars was more like a club that everyone wanted to be a part of. We all shared the same values and beliefs about the natural environment. I believe that this encouraged me to take more steps towards my goal of reducing my environmental impact and living more honestly in the world (respective to nature).By this, I mean that I was forced to see the negative things that I was doing such as wasting water or not taking the time to do things as simple as recycling. Seeing this made it easier to change this aspect of my life. Since arriving at Ohio State, I’ve made some major changes in my effort to conserve the water and electricity that I use. I had made this change early, but I really began making large changes during and after the Earth Month Challenge. As a result, I am consuming fewer resources and hopefully reducing my footprint on the Earth.

I’m not completely done making changes concerning my lifestyle. As I said during my Earth Month Challenge culmination, I am more than willing to take on someone else’s challenge. I have been interested in seeing what other ways I could continue to make a difference in my life to help conserve or protect the environment. I haven’t ever considered going fully vegetarian or vegan, but I would be open to either reducing or eliminating meat-eating on certain days of the week or certain weeks of the month. I think that this would be more than enough to promote good habits and make a difference myself.  I am willing to take on any other possible challenges that come my way and make a positive change.

Before coming to Ohio State, I did not have the same mindset that I do now in terms of taking on personal challenges that benefit the environment. To an extent, I would do positive things that support an environmentalist view, but never anything as drastic as testing my limits and potential change. This is a relatively recent change. I believe that the main reason I have never done this before is because I never really had to. Living at home, I mostly developed a routine as I grew up which did not alter from year to year. My energy use from one year to the next was probably very close to the same as any other time. Since moving to Ohio State and to Morrill Tower, I have noticed how easy it is to over use certain resources -especially water. It can be very easy after a long day to sit in the shower for a long time, leave water running when brushing teeth, or overuse it in other ways. This is mainly because of the lifestyle change, and because there is no observable negative reaction to doing this. I grew up in a house that valued conservation. If I had ever wasted power or water growing up, I would definitely hear about it later from my parents. I noticed how much I used at Morrill, and quickly started to change my bad habits. This was emphasized during my challenge month, and will more than likely continue when I move out.

This year at Ohio State was very important to me. The past year has shown me what kinds of things I value most and how I want to live when I am on my own. Just as importantly, being a member of the scholars program forced me to challenge myself beyond the academic sense. Making lifestyle changes are often very difficult, but knowing that the changes you make can produce real results in the world makes it easier to continue. I plan on continuing to make informed decisions when it comes to my habits that affect the environment.

Columbus To-Do Part 2

Columbus To-Do List: Spring

The Columbus To-Do List was one of my favorite experiences this semester and this year. Last semester, the downtown list helped me get out and away from campus and into the city that we are so close to. I feel like the city is a big part of being an Ohio State student now that I have experienced it for myself. This semester however, I chose to stay close to home and pursue some relaxation points where I can go to get out of the dorm or just to enjoy a book.

The coffee and tea to-do list was a lot of fun, beginning with Mission Coffee off of High Street. As I said in my earlier post, it is a place I see myself going to every so often to enjoy. It may have also been my favorite of the coffee shops I visited. I went to a total of five coffee and tea spots around High street and the Short North, which is refreshing because they are so close. Also, a COTA bus runs up and down High street every 15 minutes, making it even easier to get to and from.

I actually ended up visiting Mission Coffee twice, since it was so close to the other shops on the list. It was very surprising the second time, because it was warmer out and they had opened he front garage door. The first time I visited, I didn’t realize that the front wall was a door that they could raise and lower. After Mission coffee, there was a short walk to Zen tea salon. Zen tea was a little fancier than mission, we had to wait to be seated before we could order anything. Zen may become my go-to to restock tea that I keep in my room. Right around the same area is Impero, a small coffee shop very similar to Mission. Though it was about half the size, it had the same feel as Mission which I really enjoyed. Out of chance, I ran into another ENR scholar who was there unrelated to the Columbus to-do list project. Next, a bit further than the other shops, was the Fox in the Snow Café. This café was located on a street perpendicular to high, about five or ten minutes from the cluster of other shops. The Fox in the Snow was larger, freestanding, and more like a restaurant than the rest. Unfortunately, when I visited, they had just closed. I arrived at 5:08 and they had closed for the day at 5:00. That was a little disappointing, so we chose instead to head to Cup o’ Joe.

This Columbus to do list was really enjoyable. I got an excuse to drink even more caffeine than I normally do, plus the weather could not have been better for the day I did the majority of the shops. I will definitely be going back to these spots next semester. I would also recommend this list to anyone who is a fan of coffee, tea, or a nice study spot.


Earth Month Challenge Culmination

This Earth month challenge was a great experience for me. Now that the four weeks are complete, I can look back on my challenges and be proud of those cold showers and energy saved. I believe that I made a difference with the challenges that I made for myself without going to far from my daily life. The experience I had doing it was also very positive, and I have no complaints at all about what I needed to do.

I have definitely learned more ways to conserve energy easily. There are hundreds of things to be done in any given day that don’t affect my daily life, but do affect my carbon footprint. My challenges included only four of the many things that I chose to do in addition to my weekly tasks. Simple things such as choosing food more carefully (reducing the amount of red meat or meat in general that is eaten) are a great way to begin making positive changes in your life. I plan on continuing things such as this, and eventually introduce new challenges to my life. Some things however, I may go back to. I enjoy hot showers too much to remove them completely from my life. Instead, I will reduce my time in the shower while keeping the water warm.

I would very much like to take on a new challenge from a new category of conservation. I may try my hand at vegetarian weeks or days in the future, but I feel that this will be more difficult than the challenges that I completed this month. If not that, than maybe something involving the waste and toxicity category. I don’t really know what changes I could make in order to affect the Earth in that aspect. I would be up to take on someone else’s challenges from this month if they took mine in return. I am curious to see what other people have done in order to reduce their carbon emissions and their footprint.

My Earth month challenge was a positive experience, and I would happily do it again next year or even next month with a few changes. My major change would be the challenges I do, because I love to experience new things in my life -even if they are challenges. Next year I plan on doing this again to a greater degree to see how hard it would really be.

Earth Month Challenge Week 3

The Earth month challenge is quickly coming to an end. This past week, I have been participating in each of my prior goals to reduce my carbon footprint, plus that week’s goal. The shorter, colder showers were basically what I expected them to be -not too fun, but not awful. It helps that I also reduced the time of the showers, because I don’t really enjoy standing in cold water. Ultimately I am happy with how it turned out, because I was almost used to it by the end of the week. This is very fortunate, because I have to continue doing it for another week. While the week progressed, I learned that every challenge I have done so far is not nearly as difficult s many people would expect them to be. Also, I expect that the amount of power I have saved is a lot larger than many people would expect. Water takes a lot of energy to heat up, and a long shower used a huge amount of energy is you are using hot water. I think that this will be the biggest energy reduction that I have done.

Next week, I will o longer be using the elevator to get from the lobby to my room. I am not excited for this, but I expect to get used to it like all the other challenges I have done so far. I don’t have to change anything about my days to participate in this challenge, which is nice. There is no lifestyle change, just a few extra minutes a week spent walking. I think that this is a good trade-off for the energy I am saving.

Earth Month Challenge: Week 2

The Second week of the Earth month challenge has come to a conclusion. This week, I cut my usage of the campus bus system, and instead chose to walk around campus anywhere I needed to go. I found this week to not be terribly challenging, which is good to see. This is a good thing because that means that saving energy doesn’t have to be difficult. I did find however, that i should have left my heavier coats in my closet rather than taking them home. I assumed that winter was over, but this week has proven otherwise. For whatever reason, it was extremely cold -even snowing one day. This made walking around campus a little less pleasant, but still doable. Next year I’ll be sure to keep an extra winter coat in my closet, just in case another rouge snowstorm decides to show up.

I learned that saving fuel does not have to be difficult and many minor things can make a difference if everyone participates. Next week, I will be reducing the time and temperature of showers. I expect this week to be a little more difficult than the prior two weeks, mostly because I enjoy a hot shower. I’m not too worried, because I also don’t mind cool showers. I imagine that after the first few days, it will be habitual enough that I will not mind at all. The first few mornings will be a it more difficult. I look forward to adding this new routine to my life in addition to the past two weeks’ challenges.