A classroom of biology students will get first-hand experience, as well as help Weatherford College meet landscape and city ordinances, beginning in the fall.
Allison Stamatis, an instructor of biology at WC, who is known for letting her students get field experience, volunteered herself and her biology class to do the project.
“We start in the fall semester and we use it as a lab activity,” she said.
To meet the city’s guidelines, Stamatis and her students will take a survey of the trees on campus, in order to determine how many trees have been impacted by recent construction, she said.
“We have a lot of gorgeous trees on campus, and some have been stressed with construction, weather and the drought in recent years,” Stamatis said. “The city needs to know the status of our trees.”
Part of the project, which coincides with lectures on botany and environmental science, is learning the common and scientific names of the trees.
“After they’ve gotten the hang of what kinds of trees they are by sight, [the student] will then take a measurement using the diameter at breast height, which is a standard way of measuring the tree instead of having to take a look at the core,” Stamatis said. “It just measures the diameter to give you an approximately age of the tree.”
The trees are then ranked into three designations — dead, stressed or healthy, and results will be given to the city.
“This is one of those great educational opportunities for our students in natural sciences and botany classes to identify the various types of trees we have on campus and to study the appropriate environment for each species,” Linda Bagwell, director of communications and public relations for Weatherford College, said.
Richard Bowers, vice president of instruction, called the project a cost-saving measure, and a great way to get field experience for the students.
“I’m very proactive and when they approached me about it, I said of course, anything to get my students involved,” Stamatis said. “They could have just hired someone on the outside, but I think this will be a great lesson for the kids.”
Stamatis is no stranger to doing outside lessons, encouraging her classes to participate in plant walks and Earth Day.
“I love getting out and exploring,” she said. “If you just take a look around the Weatherford area, we have Clark Gardens or the waste water treatment plant, which a lot of people don’t know is there.
“When you look at things around you, you know a little more about them. It makes [the students] a more conscious consumer of science, and they can hear those stories on the news and understand what they were talking about.”