Seniors majoring in Forestry, Fisheries and Wildlife and Natural Resources Management in the School of Environment and Natural Resources (SENR) spent a week on the campus of The Ohio State University at Mansfield as part of their capstone experience. Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) 4900.02 is a senior-level capstone course aimed at integrating the ideas, concepts and tools learned throughout a student’s academic coursework, culminating in an immersive experiential learning opportunity aimed to put that knowledge to work.
The three-week capstone course taught during May partners with The Ohio State University’s Mansfield campus, as the project area for students to perform natural resource inventories and develop management plans. Situated on 640 acres of mature and new growth forest and farmland, dotted with vernal pools and stream heads, the Mansfield campus offers a unique setting for education, research, and community engagement in a natural resource-rich environment. Gabriel Karns, a visiting assistant professor in the SENR and Daniel Yaussy, a lecturer in SENR and retired scientist with the US-Forest Service Northern Research Station, co-teach the course.
Students in the course work together as part of an interdisciplinary team to identify and analyze natural resource problems that arise in practice and develop a final technical report and presentation that highlights the focus of their team’s project. This year's teams focused on 4 different project themes. One group examined seven different natural and man-made wetlands and their relative quality connected to past and new disturbances. Another established long-term monitoring plots in the different forest strata to begin tracking influences of change agents such as invasive plant species and climate change. A third built on last year's project of developing a sugar bush and established baseline data for a crop tree release designed to increase wildlife value, timber yield, and syrup production in a new growth forest stand. The final group worked across themes and also built on previous year's reports to emphasize new education and Extension opportunities by leveraging Ohio State Mansfield's on-site natural resource and environmental assets.
Photos provided by students in ENR 4900.02.