Environmental education for University of Lynchburg students is enhanced by the use of the Center as a primary field site for a variety of School of Sciences courses.
For example, introductory biology, chemistry and environmental science classes average three on-site sessions per semester, serving roughly 200 students.
The Education & Research Facility laboratory is equipped with state-of-the-art teaching and research equipment. Examples include field biology equipment, microbiological equipment, environmental chemistry instrumentation, digital data loggers, a weather monitoring station, and GPS units and GIS software.
Initiatives have been developed that involve faculty working closely with students on research projects. Specific emphases include:
- an inventory and study of local flora and fauna
- long-term monitoring of terrestrial and freshwater habitats
- land-use and water quality relationship studies
- assessment of wetland function and restoration
- archeological studies
- geologic and geomorphological surveys
- public policy analyses
Faculty-Student Research Projects
Following are examples of watershed research projects that have been conducted by University of Lynchburg faculty and students at the Center.
Most of these projects have resulted in a scholarly “senior thesis” paper and presentation by the students.
- Trophic-level interactions in the ponds at the CNSC and development of ecological models describing freshwater food webs.
- Fecal coliform levels and bacterial loads in Sheep Creek within the Big Otter River watershed as related to agricultural land use.
- A mathematical model describing the population dynamics of a four-species predator-prey scenario involving daphnia (at two developmental stages), certain invertebrates, and fish.
Art al Fresco
Other schools on campus take advantage of the Center’s natural and cultural areas for study and appreciation as well. Faculty from the College’s art program bring their students out each fall for “Art-tober Fest” and again in spring for “Spring Fest.” Students spend the day drawing, painting, photographing or sculpting their artistic interpretations of the natural beauty of the Center.