UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN River Falls
For the third year in a row, Assistant Professor of Conservation and Environmental Science Kevyn Juneau has led a group of University of Wisconsin-River Falls students to the Bahamas for a two-week, two-credit course experience on tropical restoration. (L to R): Juneau, Abbey Hinze (education major from St. Paul, Minn.), Krystal Fischer (environmental science major from Anoka, Minn.), Rudy Winckler (conservation major from Cohasset, Minn.), Josh Marose (environmental science from St. Paul), Marissa Zoubek (conservation major from Elk River, Minn.), Bridget Anderson (exploratory major from Hastings, Minn.), Kiana Johnson (field biology major from Janesville), and Abigail Henken (agricultural education from Burnett). In front is woodcarver Henry Wallace whose work was featured in the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage in Washington, D.C. He has also been acclaimed a living legend by the Bahamian government.
July 12, 2019 - For the third year in a row, Assistant Professor of Conservation and Environmental Science Kevyn Juneau has led a group of University of Wisconsin-River Falls students to the Bahamas for a two-week, two-credit course experience on tropical restoration. Eight students from a diverse set of majors including environmental science, conservation, and biology participated in the trip earlier this summer.
The group worked with the Bahamian Forestry Unit on Andros Island, the largest of the Bahamian islands, to assist with tropical restoration projects involving the Bahamian pine forests, mangrove, scrub forests and more. The trip included collecting data from permanent plots established in the restoration sites, cleaning up ocean trash from the beaches and removing invasive species.
The group also had the opportunity to snorkel at an active coral reef restoration site. Hosted by the International Field Studies program of Forfar Field Station on Andros Island, students learned from experts about the restoration process, strategies for successful restoration projects, and the ecological, cultural and economic aspects of restoration.
“One of the most important habitats in the Bahamas is the mangrove systems. They help reduce the energy in storm surges so that settlements aren’t wiped out,” Juneau said explaining the impact of the trip. “We are working to restore a major mangrove system that was degraded when a road was built, choked off the tidal flow and killed the forest. We are monitoring the regrowth of the mangroves and assessing the water chemistry to see how the system responds to the restoration.”
“Choosing to go on Dr. Juneau's study abroad trip was one of the best decisions I made in college and a truly eye-opening experience,” said Kiana Johnson, a field biology major from Janesville. “Even though the course has a tropical restoration focus, I was able to learn so much more than forestry and restoration, including the history of the Bahamas, coral formation and identification, oceanic fish, topical plants, current lizard research, and the geology of the island.”
Johnson went on to say, “The most important concept I brought home, however, was how interconnected our world is. Actions I take in Wisconsin not only impact myself and the local environment but can also affect other areas around the world like the Bahamas because of the natural movement of water and air.”
The class, offered each summer, is a directed elective course available in the conservation and environmental planning program in the Plant and Earth Science Department in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences. It is also part of the sustainable justice minor. Particularly relevant is the 15-credit restoration management emphasis in the conservation and environmental planning program which is open to students of any major.
As demonstrated in the tropical restoration experience in the Bahamas, there are increasing needs in the fields of conservation and the environment to remediate the impacts of human activity and restore balance to natural systems. Opportunities like the restoration management emphasis and the Bahamas tropical restoration trip enable students to be more prepared to seize those career options.
“This course enables our students to apply what they have learned in the classroom to an unfamiliar environment,” Juneau said. “Wisconsin doesn’t have coral reefs or mangrove swamps, so this experience is essential for a well-rounded education.”
For more information, email Juneau at firstname.lastname@example.org.