The Vernal Pool Project allows JMU and middle school students to engage in scientific concepts first learned in the classroom, giving students a better understanding of environmental science and how they can make a difference in creating, restoring and managing habitats. Two JMU student interns worked with Mike Long’s 8th grade agricultural leadership class at Wilbur Pence Middle School to develop and present related lessons and to plan an overnight field trip at the project site.
With other grant funds, JMU Roop Learning Community students and Rockingham County 8th grade students planted over 100 Virginia native trees to provide a buffer between the camp’s vernal pool and adjacent croplands. An ongoing project, the team is also focused on the following exciting prospects:
- Purchasing a camera capture system to record wildlife visiting the site
- Removing invasive species and cataloging native species in the area
- Purchasing educational signage
- Developing partnerships to take drone photographs of the area over time
As the team continues student research on the vernal pool habitat, they will collect species population counts, gather data from wildlife cameras and build an educational website that will be available to the public. In the fall of 2017, JMU students will help coordinate an environmental day for middle school students which will expose them to the environmental significance of vernal pools. In the spring of 2018, JMU and Rockingham County Schools will host the award-winning author Dr. David Sobel for a series of presentations and workshops about the philosophy of place-based education.