Students assist with GIS mapping of RSU Nature Reserve
Staff Reports Claremore Progress
Students from the Environmental and Spatial Technology (EAST) program at Northeast Technology Center’s Claremore Campus are improving the landscape of the RSU Nature Reserve in more ways than one.
The EAST Initiative focuses on student-driven service projects through the use of the latest in technology. EAST classrooms are equipped with state-of-the-art workstations, servers, software and accessories, including GPS/GIS mapping tools, architectural and CAD design software, 3D animation suites and much more.
Students find problems in their local communities and then use these tools to solve them.
Homeschooled students Matthew Shann and Levi Keely are both second-year EAST students under the direction of instructor Brook Easton. Shann and Keely are both interested in GIS mapping and selected as their student project this year to work with staff from RSU’s Nature Reserve to complete GIS mapping of the area.
“We went to GIS day last year where we met Philip Hanley who knew quite a bit about GIS mapping,” said Keely.
“He also knew the people at the nature reserve and had done field work there. He got us connected to this project and helped us out a lot through the entire process.”
In addition to Hanley, the students worked with Robert Gibbs and Kipp Love from the nature reserve to do hands-on field work to complete their project.
“It was really neat being able to go out and walk around the reserve using the GIS units,” said Shann. “We were lucky to have access to the equipment and the hands-on work was my favorite part of doing this.”
With the help of everyone involved, Shann and Keely were able to surpass their own goals and provide RSU with a very nice and useful final product.
“Our goals in the beginning were to map out the trails, creeks, boundaries and bird boxes throughout the reserve and supply them to the guys at the reserve,” said Shann. “This year we also actually ended up publishing the maps online and making replacement maps for the reserve.”
In addition to the maps, the students worked with Gibbs and Love to perform an invasive species study looking at the ecological impact of a flowering plant called Privet that blocks out the sun for the other plants.
They collaborated with an RSU Biology student Tabitha Lowe to survey the area and look at the effects of the Privet.
“We worked with Tabitha to determine where all the Privet was, what percentage of the reserve was being invaded by the plant and how much it was affecting the other flora in the reserve,” said Keely.
Gibbs and Love can now use the results of that study to determine which areas need to have measures put in place to control the invasive nature of the Privet to keep the reserve looking beautiful and serving the community as a teaching area.
Northeast Technology Center’s campuses are located in Afton, Kansas, Pryor, and Claremore.
Through its fulltime daytime classes, short-term evening classes, and its business and industry services and training, NTC serves well over 18,000 patrons per year.