Earth Day Celebration focuses on invasive species
BY LAUREN LUKENS
Aliens may not be proven to exist, but invasive species are a real and serious matter. Native animal and plant species are threatened in Michigan due to their harmful counterparts. This year’s annual Earth Day Celebration, themed “Invasive Species in Michigan,” will be held on Monday, April 13 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the DiPonio Room, located in the VisTaTech Center.
“You may already be familiar with the Emerald Ash Borer, a small insect which has devastated ash trees across the country over the past ten years at a cost of billions of dollars to local communities. As educators, we play an important role in helping our students to become aware of the history, control methods and prevention of invasive species in Michigan and across the globe,” said Caroline McNutt, Associate Professor of Biology and Chair of the 2015 Earth Day Celebration Planning Committee. “This is also an opportunity for students to learn more about potential internships and careers from passionate professionals working in science and environmental fields.”
From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Honors Program students will present hands-on activities, such as the opportunity to create one’s own Earth Day t-shirt. Various government regencies and local non-profit organizations will have interesting display tables, and this is a great opportunity for those interested in Biological Conservation and related fields to network.
Schoolcraft College students who previously registered will present posters related to the event’s theme, competing for two $250 Schoolcraft College Foundation Scholarships. Those eligible must be currently enrolled in a minimum of six credit hours at Schoolcraft and plan to enroll for a minimum of six additional credits in spring, summer or fall 2015. A panel of judges will determine a winner.
“It [invasive species] is a very, very important environmental issue. It has a deep ecological and environmental impact on the state,” said Michael Orick, Schoolcraft Professor of Biology. “For example, even though you don’t think you are impacted by Asian Carp, you are because you spend more money on fish that are caught in the Great Lakes.”
At 1 p.m., attention will focus on a Birds of Prey presentation by Joe Rogers from the Wildlife Recovery Association, located in Shepherd, MI. Several live raptors, all which were rescued from danger, will come with Rogers. Viewers will get a chance to see the birds up close and even touch a few.
“He [Rogers] is quite entertaining, and his passion for his important work is truly inspiring,” said McNutt.
Rogers, a Midland County resident, army veteran, bachelor of Biology from Central Michigan University (CMU) and retired park ranger, founded the Wildlife Recovery Association in 1979, but the group started informally many years before. The association is primarily supported through membership fees and private donations.
“My parents were into it, so I started at a young age. Since founded, we have mainly worked with CMU students, but also students around Michigan, including at Schoolcraft,” said Rogers. “In the long run, education is most important. If we don’t value wildlife, we won’t be able to save it.”
Schoolcraft has partnered with the Wildlife Recovery Association for over 15 years by hosting Birds of Prey shows, building hundreds of birdhouses around Michigan and more.
If one is unable to make it to the showing at 1 p.m., another presentation will occur at 6 p.m. in the DiPonio Room. Schoolcraft students, faculty and staff are encouraged to attend, and the public is welcome.