Society of Environmental Journalists Stop by Sewanee

Thu, 17 Oct 2013 16:47:00 CDT  — by: Clesi Bennett, C'13, Sustainability Post-Baccalaureate Fellow

jon_oneOn October 3rd, an enthusiastic group from the Society of Environmental Journalists visited Sewanee as a part of their 23rd annual conference. This year the conference was held in Chattanooga where the journalists were able to experience much of the sustainability of the Southeast, including the Conasuga River, the Cumberland Plateau, Oak Ridge, the Sequoyah Nuclear Plant, the state-of-the-art Volkswagen factory, the Tennessee Aquarium, and more.

The first stop of the journalist’s day in Sewanee was to the Landscape Analysis Lab where GIS professor Dr. Chris Van de Ven gave a historical overview of the lab and spoke on various current projects. The Landscape Analysis Lab is a geospatial science education and research laboratory whose mission is to advance the scientific understanding of our environment through the application of geospatial science and technologies.

Some of the projects Dr. Van de Ven captivated the audience with included: the Sewanee Forest History project, Forest change on the Cumberland Plateau, and Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Arrival project. Read more about these projects in depth here.

jon_threeNext, Mary Priestly, curator of the Sewanee Herbarium, greeted the environmental journalists. Mary explained the educational, research, and conservation role played by the Sewanee Herbarium on the flora of the Domain and surrounding areas. Biodiversity Fellow, Callie Oldfield (C’15) then explained the iNaturalist program that Sewanee is engaging in. iNaturalist is a program that allows users to photograph a species and receive instantaneous feedback on that specific animal or plant. Sewanee is working with app developers to create a similar program for the flora of the Domain and surrounding area. Read more about the Sewanee Herbarium happening here.

After a lively lunch in McClurg Dining Hall, the group headed to Green’s View to meet biology professors Dr. Jon Evans and Dr. David Haskell for a walk through Shakerag Hallow, a rare stand of remaining old-growth forest on the Domain. On this hike, Dr. Evans and Dr. Haskell discussed various threats to the species-rich Cumberland Plateau, including exotic plants, deer overpopulation, regional habitat loss, climate change, industry, and more. 

davidOverall, it was a lively day filled with pertinent discussion over the threats of biodiversity and the challenge to become sustainable.  To learn more about the Society of Environmental Journalists and the conference in Chattanooga, click here.

One of the journalists present, Mark Schleifstein of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, published a story of what was discussed that day. Read his story here

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