At Swan Lake Iris Gardens, the students are conducting a biodiversity inventory. During our first lab meeting the students outlined the following goals.
- Introduce the public to the wildlife of Swan Lake
- Become more familiar with SL and its species
- Show people ways to protect the natural environment at Swan Lake
- Understand how we affect the environment at Swan Lake
A summary of the project is provided below through the following interview I did for a student named Trish Dickinson. In addition, the work of the students was recently featured in the Sumter news. You can view that press release by clicking here. Stay tuned as we will post a species list and photos to this page after the Spring semester.
The students have already documented a number of bird and plant species. To view each preliminary species list, click the links below.
Why Swan Lake?
I was visiting it one day as a potential place to visit for field labs. I met Susan Wild from the City of Sumter, and she mentioned their interest in knowing more about their native flora and fauna. They have many visitors who ask about that aspect, but the information they wish to share is not complete. I thought it might make sense for us to gather this information for Swan Lake. In doing so, I am able to teach the students about how we identify and sample these different types of organisms.
I have worked at a number of urban parks and have always been surprised at the findings. Science is worth little if not shared, and SL is a place where the information we find will be easy to share with the public. Furthermore, for the first time in history, there are more people now in cities than in rural areas. If we are to protect biodiversity and have people appreciate it, it is certainly convenient and strategic to do so in the place that most people live. The audience is already present.
What are hopes for project?
If students can come away with some knowledge and appreciation for the natural environment that surrounds them, then I have succeeded. I want them to know how to recognize a few of the plants and animals that they see in nature, and more importantly, to recognize their interdependence with those organisms. This will be a class of exposure. Many labs I do bypass this step. In other words, to have a student measure water quality is to assume they care about the water, which assumes they have been exposed to it and its wild contents in the first place. Such exposure is no longer commonplace. There are times when we need to back up, to expose ourselves for the first time. Only then can we fully appreciate the steps that should follow and understand the full consequences of our interaction with the environment. I want the community to share many of the same celebrations and exposures to nature that the class will enjoy. Therefore, we will use the data we collect to eventually package a brochure, a bird checklist, and other materials for all visitors to Swan Lake. Through this, the community will come to know another splendid side of an already beautiful Swan Lake.
The views and opions expressed in this page are strictly those of R. Austin Jenkins. The contents of this page have not been reviewed or approved by the University of South Carolina.