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Jennifer Clevinger

Professor of Biology

B.A., Hiram College; Ph.D., University of Texas at Austin

Walsh University
A Catholic University of Distinction
2020 East Maple Street
North Canton, Ohio44720
United States

Environmental Field Center Benefits Community and Campus

Environmental Field Center Benefits Community and Campus

Dr. Jennifer Clevinger, associate chair of the division of math and sciences and professor of biology, has no problem getting her hands dirty. In fact, for Dr. Clevinger and the students in her field botany class, the outdoors is where science comes alive.

Two grants – one from Marathon Petroleum Corporation for $50,000 and another from the Herbert W. Hoover Foundation for $35,000 – were used to renovate and convert a kitchen at Walsh's Hoover Park into a four-season Environmental Field Center with a pavilion for an outdoor classroom. The federally protected wetlands are an ideal setting for the Walsh laboratory.

"It is very rare for a university to have access to this kind of field study in such close proximity to campus," said Dr. Clevinger. "With this unique classroom only a short walk away, we hope to attract more undergraduate students interested in organismal biology and the environmental field studies."

The new environmental field center is home to the first service learning course in the division of science. One ongoing class service project includes the removal of invasive plants such as garlic mustard and multiflora rose that are not indigenous to Ohio and overcrowding native Ohio wildflowers. Also, Honors students are currently compiling a checklist of the plants that inhabit the Hoover Park while conducting an analysis of the water quality of the Hoover Park wetlands and stream.

"This checklist and water quality study will prove to be an important tool in monitoring any future changes that signal if there is a problem in our local natural habitats," said Dr. Clevinger.

An outreach program has also been established to serve local students and the community. Elementary school children travel to the Environmental Field Center to learn about habitats, and sample the stream for invertebrate diversity. Walsh students teach the children to identify insects and to explore feeding adaptations of insects. Local garden clubs travel to the Environmental Field Center to hear a lecture on People and Plants. In addition, Boy Scouts from Troop 135 in Uniontown have built a native plant garden surrounding the center that can be enjoyed by all groups visiting Hoover Park.

Dr. Clevinger continues to design more outreach experiences for community children led by Walsh undergraduates. Undergraduate classes in Ecology, Botany and Environmental Science have joined the Field Botany class in adding laboratory components utilizing the center too. A grand opening for the community to visit the center is planned for Spring 2013 that will include environmental talks and hands-on activities.

"With the input of our faculty, North Canton neighbors and grant partners, we have had the unique opportunity to create something special that is also in line with the University's mission of service," said Dr. Clevinger. "The Field Center is a useful resource that will not only benefit our students but also the entire North Canton community."

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