UNCG is currently undergoing a two-phase construction in Peabody Park. Students, faculty, and staff are all joining together to enhance the wetlands.
UNCG received a $46,112 grant in December 2016 from the Duke Energy Water Resources Fund to promote water quality improvement, biotic diversity, and aesthetic enrichment. In addition to Duke Energy’s donation, the UNCG Green Fund also contributed $8,000 to the project. The environmental plan was initiated by the UNCG RISE Network, a group of faculty and administrators who promote STEM education activities on campus.
“The wetlands are being installed as living laboratories to serve as a model for environmental health to our community and provide a means for education and research on aquatic environments as our global climate patterns change,” project leader Dr. Malcolm Schug stated. “As a campus that prides itself on its beauty, commitment to sustainability, and education on environmental issues, UNCG is situated to construct small wetland habitats for environmental, educational, and research purposes.”
According to Schug, the primary goals of this project are to improve water quality of runoff delivered to receiving streams, increase biotic diversity with native wetland plants, and provide educational opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students across disciplines. Additionally, the wetlands provide research opportunities for students and faculty across disciplines and colleges. The construction of these wetlands will enhance the beauty of UNCG campus landscape.
Other departments at UNCG, such as Biology and Chemistry, have also devoted efforts to advancing this cause.
“Research projects focusing on the types of birds, mammals, and amphibians at the two wetlands sits has already begun in the biology department,” Schug said. “Chemistry has initiated a project to assess changes in water quality that occur as the wetlands mature.”
Additionally, the project will also provide hands-on experience for Biology and Chemistry students to study.
“This project creates a living laboratory to conduct research on biological, plant, microbial diversity and water quality, and to observe changes as they grow, mature and become permanent features of the campus landscape,” Schug said. “The wetlands provide outstanding, hands-on opportunities for course activities in chemistry, biology, and throughout the curriculum.Students may also become involved in undergraduate research projects to study features of the wetlands, and educational activities in outreach events to the local community.”
More than 100 students volunteered during the installation of the two wetlands already. All students and faculty interested in sustainability, environmental sciences, education, community engagement, and service learning activities, are welcome to participate.
“If anyone would like a tour, they can join us at Science Everywhere on April 22, between 12-4 p.m.,” Project coordinator Lynn Sametz stated. “We will have walking tours through Peabody Park that include both wetlands.”