Armed with a microphone and an arsenal of information, a KSC professor led a Campus Tree Trek at Keene State on Sept. 30 to teach students about the importance of the environment and to increase interest in the ecological preservation of the local regions. The walk was guided by Karen Seaver, an adjunct instructor in the environmental studies and sustainability program at KSC. Along with teaching at the local college, Seaver works as an ecologist at the Harris Center. Located in Hancock, N.H. the Harris Center is a non-profit dedicated to the understanding and care for the natural world through educating young and old alike.
Over the first three months of the semester, Keene State has partnered with the organization to host three different nature treks. This particular one is designed to teach students about the trees on campus and the relationships between the plants, animals and microbes that rely on said trees. People from all around campus and the surrounding community came out for the event, creating a crowd of around 50 people. The tour opened with a nod to the indigenous heritage of the land that was being covered, and a reference to previous nature walks.
Local resident Jill O’Reilly shared that her inspiration for joining the walk was from the Cheshire Academy for Lifelong Learning program at Keene State College, an education opportunity for those in retirement. “I’ve always wanted to go…and they announced it today,” O’Reilly said. “…I’m going to follow this if it’s going to be a regular thing.” The tour took the group all around campus, introducing different types of trees and their genotypes, from maple to redwoods, a tree that astonished O’Reilly. “A redwood, I’m from California and it’s hard to believe there’s a redwood on campus,” she said.
The locals were not the only people on the tour. A large group of secondary education students were looking to gain experience for an upcoming paper. Asked to find a way outside of class to expand their knowledge, first- year Equinox staffer Abby Joslin shared that she was here “because [education students] need to get educational experience outside of the classroom.”
Sophomore Kristlynn Hunt is a part of EcoReps, an environmental preservation group on campus. Following the weekly meeting, some of the members were asked to join the walk. Hunt has been involved for quite a while. “I’ve really learned the beauty of nature,” Hunt said. “Last year, I started to get into plants and the greenery, which is still a part of my happiness today.”
The relationship between nature and happiness was clear from the participation of the group as a whole. The energy was high and any question posed to the group was quickly answered with enthusiasm. These treks around campus open up students to new experiences they may not get otherwise.
“I think these events are very beneficial because they offer an opportunity to not only explore nature, but explore aspects of another major that is offered here,” Hunt said. “My major, psychology, is very human-based research, and opportunities like these are very refreshing to get a sense of the natural world from experts and professors I would never have experienced.”
Erin Plummer can be contacted