Students celebrate Earth Day with a nature walk

Sunday, May 3, 2015

By Dan Crawford

Special to the Communitarian

During the week of April 20th, the student club MESA (Modern Environmental Sustainability Association) hosted a variety of activities to celebrate Earth Week.

One of the activities was a nature walk around DCCC’s scenic grounds on Marple campus April 21, led by biology professor Dr. Steve Aquilani.

During this tour students learned about the various trees (both common and rare) found on the college’s campus, the many types of birds that inhabit the College’s woods, and the delicate ecosystem found in the pond, which is part of the Crum Creek watershed.

The group spoke with Kevin Dillinger, a member of the college’s grounds crew who plays an instrumental role in maintaining the tree and plant populations found on campus.

“We’re losing oaks like crazy,” he said. “I have to spray the plants to keep the deer away. Because if we don’t… they get eaten.”

Aquilani discussed the evergreen trees, which he said are widely used for timber, and the iconic pine tree.

He also said the easiest way to tell a pine from other trees is to count the needles on the branches. If the needles are in groups of two, three, or five it is a pine.

Before the tour began, Aquilani drew the group’s attention to the pond next to the STEM building. He noted the brown color of the lake and said that this was not natural.


“When I look at this pond the first thing I think of is the oxygen cycle,” Aquilani said. He began to discuss the oxygen process for the pond, and how it has resulted in the brown, unhealthy color.

The tour concluded with a view of the bridge eclipsing the sun, casting a shadow among the rocks and the people walking past.“The world needs solutions,” Aquilani told the students. “It all has to start with science.”

The campus community is also encouraged to view the hydroponics installation in the STEM building.  This system uses nutrient rich water solutions rather than soil to allow plants to grow.

The hydroponics system was constructed by students involved in MESA and the Women in S.T.E.M. clubs with the generous assistance of Dave and Mark physical plant employees.

All students interested in environmental and sustainability issues are encouraged to join MESA next year when more great activities and events are planned, said Erica Danowitz, the club’s co-adviser.

Contributers: MESA co-advisor Erica Danowitz and Matthew Pellegrini

By Dan Crawford

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