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“Exploring a Sense of Place,” a series of guided walks and events offered through October 27, 2010.

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY - This fall Vassar Farm & Ecological Preserve will present a series of guided walks and events that are open to public without charge through October 27, 2010. Participants should meet at the parking area near the large red barn across from the community gardens on the Vassar Farm. A van will depart from Main Circle 15 minutes before the programs begin to bring participants from the Vassar campus to the farm (except on 9/25 and 10/27). 

On Wednesday, September 22 at 3:30pm, Lucy Johnson, professor of anthropology, will lead the walk, titled "Native America Usage of the Preserve and Valley." Johnson, who has done field work in Alaska, Egypt, Chile, Peru, Idaho, Arizano, and New York State, will look at the various places on the farm and consider how the Native Americans would have used each at various times in their history.

Led by the Ralph T. Waterman Bird Club, "Bird Watching" will be the focus of a walk on Saturday, September 25 at 9:00am. Founded in 1958, the Ralph T. Waterman Bird Club endeavors to promote conservation through education of the public and to provide opportunity for the study and observation of birds, in addition to advocating research in the fields of ornithology and conservation. (Please note there is no bus from campus to the farm for this program.)

On Wednesday, September 29 at 3:30pm, Kirsten Menking, associate professor of earth sciences, will lead the walk: "Glacial History of the Preserve." Menking researches on past climate change and landscape evolution due to climactic and tectonic processes.

Jason Carter '10 and Hannah Clark (SUNY Geneseo '10), who work to protect, preserve, and restore the environment along with the nearly 60,000 members of the Student Conservation Association (SCA), will lead the walk "Forest Ecology and Invasive Insects" on Wednesday October 6 at 3:30pm. Carter and Clark have worked at Vassar's Ecological Preserve as Vassar's first SCA interns.

On Wednesday October 13 at 3:30pm, Meg Ronsheim, associate professor of biology, Abby Falk-Rood ’11, and Keri VanCamp, the manager of the Vassar Farm & Ecological Preserve Field Station, will lead the walk "Mushroom Foray and Basic ID." Ronsheim’s research focuses on how interactions between plants, pathogenic fungi, and mutualistic fungi affect the evolution of plant reproduction and dispersal mechanisms. She has done field work in Rocky Mountain Biological Lab and Mountain Lake Biological Lab.

Join Preserve Manager, Keri VanCamp and Collins Research Fellow, Emily Vail, on Wednesday, October 20, at 1:30pm, in completing a wetland buffer planting project along the bank of the Casperkill Creek. Flowing through the Vassar Farm & Ecological Preserve, the Casperkill Creek  has experienced severe erosion in places. Through the support of the NYS DEC's Trees for Tribs Program, this program will focus on planting native trees and shrubs along the Casperkill to help prevent future erosion and improve habitat in and around the stream. Participants should meet at the parking area near the large red barn across from the community gardens on the Vassar Farm. The planting will take place at the intersection of the Wright and Davies trail.

On Wednesday October 27, at 6:30pm and at 8pm, the series will conclude with two presentations by Glenn Proudfoot, research associate in biology, on the topic: “Northern Saw Whet Owl.” Hannah Clark and Jason Carter will join him to discuss the nesting size, hatching efficiency, nestling development, and fledging efficiency of the Northern Saw Whet Owls. One of four existing owl species on the farm, the Northern Saw Whet Owl is considered to be a bio-indicator of early warning of pollution of degradation in New York State’s ecosystem. Please note that reservations are full for both the 27 October programs. For additional information contact Hannah Clark at hannah3890@yahoo.com or Keri VanCamp at (845) 437-7414. (The rain date for the event is Friday, October 29. Please note there is no bus from campus to the farm for this program.)

Please note that these events may be cancelled due to adverse weather. Please address any questions to Hannah Clark at hannah3890@yahoo.com or Keri VanCamp at (845) 437-7414.

About the Vassar Farm and Ecological Preserve

The Vassar Farm, situated on a 527.5-acre plot of land, is located on the southern side of the Vassar College campus, across Hooker Avenue.  Historically, the land was a working farm providing milk, pork, and vegetables to the college dining halls until 1957. In the proceeding years, the farm was established as an ecological preserve for study and research.  The farm currently provides wooded trails, open meadows, sports fields, and space for several organizations. The land hosts a wide variety of activities by members of Vassar and the surrounding communities, and remains one of few open spaces in the City of Poughkeepsie.

The mission of the Vassar Ecological Preserve is to protect and preserve the ecological diversity of the land to ensure that its educational value will be maintained in perpetuity. The Vassar Ecological Preserve promotes increased understanding and appreciation of the natural systems on the preserve through field-based education and research.

Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodations at Vassar should contact the Office of Campus Activities at (845) 437-5370. Without sufficient notice, appropriate space and/or assistance may not be available. Directions to the Vassar campus are available at www.vassar.edu/directions.

Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.

Posted by Office of Communications Monday, September 20, 2010