With the forest only a few hundred yards away, students at South Seattle Community College don’t have to go far to get in touch with nature. This makes the college a perfect place to learn about forest restoration.
Through Nature Consortium’s partnership with SSCC and Seattle Parks, the West Duwamish Greenbelt is being used as a living lab for the Horticulture Department’s Restoration Ecology class. This class was offered for the first time by instructor Van Bobbitt this past winter quarter and proved to be an immense success in teaching best management practices in Pacific Northwest ecology, connecting students to a local resource, and strengthening community partnerships.
The West Duwamish Greenbelt is an important resource to the community. The forest provides a multitude of ecosystem services from filtering storm water run-off, providing important habitat for wildlife, and being a living buffer for sound and air pollution coming from the industrial Duwamish River. It’s also a great way for the community to connect to nature through use of the trail system, participation in Nature Consortium’s restoration work parties, or environmental education exchange.
To prepare students for careers in the restoration field, NatureC Restoration Director Lili Allala and Seattle Parks Plant Ecologists Rory Denovan & Michael Yadrick worked together with Van to come up with course work that mirrors restoration techniques taught and used by restoration ecologists in the Pacific Northwest. Students learned vegetation and soil monitoring protocols, how to create a restoration plan for a site, and volunteer management skills. In an article recently published by the Green Seattle Partnership, student Joan Kalhorn shared her experiences from the class:
One cold and blustery Saturday in early March, students from SSCC’s ecological restoration class joined volunteers from the Nature Consortium to help restore the forest directly behind the College. Although they ached the next day, the students finished the day with a small chunk of the West Duwamish Greenbelt cleared of invasive weeds, planted with native shrubs and trees, and mulched to keep down weeds and retain water.
Ecological restoration is a new program for the College’s Landscape Horticulture curriculum. According to horticulture instructor Van Bobbitt: “Forest and landscape restoration is a growing field and a source of green jobs for our students. We are fortunate to have an incredible natural laboratory for forest restoration right behind our College. So last fall, we added an introductory course in eco-restoration. This was followed by a practicum course in the winter where our students actually selected, planned and restored a section of the forest. It’s our hope that we maintain and grow this program, adding a little more restored forest to our backyard each year.”
LHO student Bridget Kelsh, about to graduate, had this to say: “I got the opportunity to…” (read more)
This partnership has been a great way to get students at South Seattle Community College involved and invested in the West Duwamish Greenbelt and connected to the Nature Consortium community. We look forward to the possibility of doing this again!
To get connected with Nature Consortium to bring an educator to your classroom through our environmental education exchange or to find out more about volunteer opportunities, contact Restoration Director Lili Allala email@example.com.