Long before that philosophy was being touted on bumper stickers, Mount Holyoke students were putting it into practice. And this spring, one environmental studies class tackled some of the biggest global issues of our time by staying right on campus.
Their laboratory was a stream feeding into Upper Lake. The objective: improve the health of Mount Holyoke’s beloved Upper and Lower Lakes. The strategy: restore wetlands to prevent sediment and nutrient pollution from reaching the lakes. The real-life applications: water quality improvement, invasive species management, sustainable food production, and climate change mitigation, to name a few.
That, according to Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Kate Ballantine (pictured, left), is just the beginning.
She envisions Mount Holyoke becoming the leader in undergraduate restoration ecology studies. Restoration ecology is the science that informs the practice of ecosystem restoration, or the practice of restoring ecosystems that have been degraded, damaged, or destroyed. Since emerging in the 1980s, it has become on the world’s fastest growing fields.
Ballantine’s students developed protocols to monitor changes at the site over time. These included collecting data about water quality, soil composition, plant species, and animal habitats.