Work with environmental students rewarding for all involved

We, at MAD Scientist Associates, are always delighted when we’re asked to participate in or provide expert knowledge on student projects. It’s a great way to stay connected to the community, hear different and fresh perspectives on ecological issues, and provides a great platform for us to show students ecological problems and solutions from a real-world perspective. This week, the MAD team participated in two education events: one at New Albany High School and the other with the Wetland Ecology class at The Ohio State University

At New Albany HS, we were asked to listen to student presentations regarding the harmful algal blooms at Grand Lake Saint Marys and provide expert advice to catalyze meaningful discussion regarding the subject.  After nearly three weeks of research, student groups each presented the solution that they thought would be most suitable to alleviate the problem.  Solutions ranged from expanding riparian buffer zones, changing the components in fertilizer applications and applying chemicals like alum to the water.  They quickly discovered that each solution came with its own set of financial, social, environmental, and political problems and that there is no one “silver bullet” to fix the issue. The MAD team was impressed by the complex ideas presented by these young scientists/students and know that they will do great things for the environment in the future.

At OSU, part of the MAD team listened to wetland restoration plans developed and presented by undergraduate students as part of their final project. Students were asked to identify a location best suited for a restoration project by identifying areas with appropriate soils and an adequate buffer. They were then asked to develop a construction plan to help restore the hydrology as well as a planting plan to restore proper vegetation—the same thing we at MAD do every day! We were captivated by their ability to use sophisticated software and the concepts they learned in the classroom to develop such great plans!

We think it’s great for students to be exposed to real-world environmental issues and to be able to try their hand at developing solutions—after all, they are our future. No matter what age or at what level, there is always something that can be learned. It’s a pleasure to interact with these bright minds, and we look forward to doing more in the future!

--Lindsey Korfel, Environmental Technician & Wildlife Specialist