Alex Gray ’09 is focusing his Senior Integrative Experience (SIE) on Odell’s pond. As an environmental studies major, Gray wants his SIE to promote sustainability on campus now and for the future. Gray explains he was encouraged by Paul Kehle, assistant professor of education, to pursue a project in which he combined both his environmental studies and his biology majors while keeping the thought of sustainability in mind.
Originally from Dorset, Vt., Gray has loved the outdoors since he was young. “I have always had an interest in wildlife; when I was a kid, I always said I wanted to be a wildlife veterinarian,” he explains. “When I came to HWS, I took a class in environmental studies and immediately had a realization that we, as individuals, need to do our part in order to live more sustainably on this earth. The sustainability concept developed into restoration as I got further into the biology/environmental science curriculum and it ended up being a great outlet for my sustainability drive and my love for ecology.”
Gray’s Odell’s pond restoration project is elaborate and will take more than one semester to implement. Therefore, his short-term goal is to develop a plan to be carried out in the future. He is currently learning as much as possible about the pond’s history and water in order to put his restoration project into action.
The ultimate goal and hope is that Odell’s pond will be restored to a point where it can be considered a Backyard Habitat. Backyard Habitats, according to the National Wildlife Federation, “are small areas of land that specific species have been found to occupy. The habitat must contain food, water, shelter, a place for the species to raise their young. The habitat must also include sustainable gardening practices to ensure that the habitat will continue to survive.”
“There is no better time to attempt a restoration than when the Colleges are geared toward this campaign to promote sustainable living,” says Gray. “The pond is a great resource and not a lot of people take advantage of it. This restoration will draw more attention to it as a wildlife habitat and perhaps people will have more respect for it. The hope is that it will also be used as a learning tool where professors can take their students to observe and research some local species.”