Forestry Students Volunteer at Ohoopee Dunes Natural Area
February 12, 2013 - Students from Southeastern Technical College’s Swainsboro campus, along with volunteers from member organizations of the Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance (GPCA), recently worked in the Ohoopee Dunes Natural Area (ODNA) to plant and protect seedlings for a GPCA project.
The Atlanta Botanical Garden, Chattahoochee Nature Center, Georgia Department of Natural Resources and State Botanical Garden of Georgia, along with Brenau University, sent volunteers to Emanuel County to assist the Southeastern Tech Forestry program, led by John Thrift, with the project.
“We helped plant the trees and constructed protective exclosures made of wire to keep deer away,” said Thrift, a member of the ODNA advisory management team.
Thrift saw two particular advantages to his students’ participation with GPCA.
“The students gain experience working with an alliance comprised of several entities with diverse backgrounds and expertise working for a common goal,” said Thrift. “And they gain firsthand experience in ecological restoration with particular emphasis on rare plants endemic to this region.”
The ODNA covers 3,000 acres and is of particular interest to forestry and horticultural professionals, among others. The area contains a number of rare plants used to teach students the importance of protecting biodiversity.
“One area of particular interest is the fire dependent ecosystem of the dunes,” said Thrift. “It's a showcase of how prescribed fire can restore and maintain the health of our pine forests in the Southeast.”
Southeastern Tech has made use of the ODNA a number of times and plans to continue working with the natural area. This spring, the STC Forestry and Wildlife Club will head up the construction of a trail on the grounds.
For more information on Southeastern Tech’s Forestry program, call 478-289-2200 or 912-538-3100 or visit www.southeasterntech.edu.