Tag: forestry

Area Schools View Raptor Migration

Nearly 300 K-12 students from seven schools in Houghton, Baraga and Keweenaw counties ascended Brockway Mountain this spring, to view the annual raptor migration.

Research Engineer Dana Richter, forestry student Auriel Van De Laar, and members of the Copper Country Audubon Club helped students identify the raptors using binoculars, a spotting scope, and field guides–as well as learn about raptor characteristics and migration routes.

Each spring, thousands of hawks, eagles and other raptors fly north along the Keweenaw Peninsula looking for a way to cross Lake Superior. As the birds reach the tip of the peninsula, some ride updrafts of warm air over Lake Superior, while others circle back and head for Duluth where they can follow the shoreline north.

In April and May, people from all over the region visit this well-known scenic overlook for an, amazing view of raptors soaring by at eye level.

Despite the popularity of the spring raptor migration among local and regional “birders,” few K-12 students have ever heard of the raptor migration.

The Keweenaw Raptor Survey is a project of Copper Country Audubon and Laughing Whitefish Audubon of Marquette. Arthur Green (awg@gmx.us), a professional hawk-counter, is stationed on the mountain from March to June to count the raptors passing overhead. Sixteen species of raptors totaling almost 10,000 birds were counted in 2010.

The 140 birds viewed on April 29 included: turkey vulture, osprey, bald eagle , northern harrier, sharp-shinned hawk, cooper’s hawk, northern goshawk, red-shouldered hawk, broad-winged hawk, red-tailed hawk, rough-legged hawk , golden American kestrel, merlin and peregrine falcon

The staff of the Western UP Center for Science, Math and Environmental Education organized the event.

For more information, visit: www.keweenawraptorsurvey.org .

ESC Announces Fall Travel Grants

The Ecosystem Science Center has announced the recipients of its 2010 Fall Graduate Student Travel Grants. Following is the list of recipients and their advisors.

  • Sinan Abood, Environmental Engineering (Ann Maclean, SFRES) received $500 to attend and instruct a special session at the ASPRS/CaGIS 2010 Fall Specialty Conference in Orlando, Fla., from Nov. 15-19.
  • Ruth Bennett, Applied Ecology (Joseph Bump, SFRES) received $421 to attend the XIV Congreso de la Sociedad Mesoamericana para le Biologia y la Conservacion in San Jose, Costa Rica, from Nov. 8-12.
  • Marcella Campione, Forestry (Linda Nagel, SFRES) received $500 to present a poster at the Society of American Foresters National Convention in Albuquerque, N.M., from Oct. 27-31.
  • Nan Davis, Forestry (Robert Froese, SFRES) received $500 to present a poster at the Society of American Foresters National Convention in Albuquerque, N.M., from Oct 27-31.
  • Kevyn Juneau, Forestry (Catherine Tarasoff, SFRES) received $500 to give a talk at the MN/WI Invasive Species Conference in St. Paul, Minn., from Nov. 8-10.
  • Laura Kangas, Applied Ecology (Rodney Chimner, SFRES) received $500 to give a talk at the Wetlands in the Landscape Meeting of the Wisconsin Wetland Association, in Baraboo, Wisc., from Feb. 16-17.
  • Trevor Roberts, Forest Ecology and Management (Robert Froese, SFRES) received $500 to present a poster at the Society of American Foresters National Convention in Albuquerque, N.M., from Oct. 27-31.
  • Agustin Robles-Morua, Environmental Engineering (Kathy Halvorsen and Audrey Mayer, SS) received $500 to give a talk at the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, Calif., from Dec. 13-17.
  • Shawna Welsh, Applied Ecology (Thomas Pypker, SFRES) received $500 to give a talk at the Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference in Minneapolis, Minn., from Dec. 12-15.
  • Nick Windmuller, Forestry (Robert Froese, SFRES) received $500 to present a poster at the Society of American Foresters National Convention in Albuquerque, N.M., from Oct. 27-31.
  • Rosa Flores, Environmental Engineering (Judith Perlinger, CEE) received $500 to present a poster at the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, Calif., from Dec. 13-17.

Alumnus Sam Gardner (2009) hits the trail

From Sam Gardner’s online journal:

“On January 1st of 2011, I will set out on a 12,500+ mile “All-In Trek” to establish a new record of unassisted ultra-light long-distance  backpacking. It will be the first ever, attempt of the “All-In Trek”. This involves solo hiking the four longest hiking trails in the United States, back-to-back continuously without any time off.  I hope to finish in one year but it is my ultimate goal  to complete this trek continuously regardless of a time frame. The journey of the endeavor  is most important to me.”

Read more on Sam’s journal http://www.theinitiativesite.com/

Professor Blair Orr Receives the Distinguished Teaching Award

by Alanna Knapp, student editor

Professor Blair Orr (SFRES) has received the 2010 Distinguished Teaching Award in the associate professor/professor category. He is singled out especially for directing Tech’s Peace Corps Master’s International Program, which allows students to combine two years of Peace Corps service with a graduate degree program. Involving eight disciplines, Michigan Tech has the largest number of Master’s International programs nationwide at one university.

Orr earned a PhD in Forestry Economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and came to Michigan Tech in 1992. From the start, he taught economics and began the University’s first Master’s International program, forestry, in 1995. He became the director all eight programs in 2006.

Professor Blair Orr
Professor Blair Orr

“Blair brings to the University his creativity, his time, a passion for international programs, and, most importantly, a commitment to students’ success,” said Dean Margaret Gale.

Students returning from the field tell Gale that they are well-prepared for their service. “They are confident,” she said, “and, with Blair’s guidance and influence, prepared for service abroad.”

Less than three percent of Michigan Tech students leave the program, compared to one-third nationally. Gale attributes that commitment to Orr’s dedication.

Students say that success in the field begins in Orr’s classroom. “He prepares students to deal with the challenges of life in a developing country,” one student said. “He exposes them to the main issues they will encounter–teaching them to critically examine issues, and helping them develop the ability to find more information about these issues when the need arises overseas.”

Another student surmises that Orr is “possibly the best Peace Corps Master’s International director in the country.”

Other students describe him as “an excellent teacher who is both knowledgeable and able to effectively transfer this knowledge to his students. He uses homework methods that make students connect their lives to what is being learned in class.”

For his part, Orr says that the course material for these master’s students is more than just interesting information. “The success in the class and abroad,” he says, “depends upon students’ ability to understand and assimilate these lectures and readings in the field.”

Therefore, he emphasizes, in part, class participation in discussions and writing. “I require students to keep a journal. When they write about the course topics–dealing with politics, corruption, community involvement–it helps to assess their comprehension.”

Directing such an endeavor engages him. “I am involved from the moment they apply to the program until graduation,” he says.

Sometimes their lives are arduous. He has one student who has to travel 20 miles to access the Internet.

What he enjoys most is interacting with these students in the field. “Some days they are excited and enjoying the work,” he said, “and the next day they are depressed and need encouragement.”

This understanding coach and mentor concludes, “Because I served as a Peace Corp volunteer, I am able to identify with their experiences.”

A Sweet Solution to Michigan’s Economic Problems

Michigan Tech Forestry and Environmental Resource Management (FERM) members tend the maple syrup evaporator, keeping the fire going, watching tap levels in the pans, making sure it does not boil over and drawing off the syrup.
Michigan Tech Forestry and Environmental Resource Management (FERM) members tend the maple syrup evaporator, keeping the fire going, watching tap levels in the pans, making sure it does not boil over and drawing off the syrup.
May 24, 2010— Dave Kossak, a third-year forestry student at Michigan Technological University, has a sweet solution to Michigan’s economic woes: maple syrup.  He’d like to see Michigan become the maple syrup capital of the world, and his proposal for accomplishing that goal has won him a $5,000 scholarship as the fourth-place winner of a college student competition called Motivate Michigan.

Motivate Michigan’s corporate, nonprofit and media partners contributed more than $48,000 to provide scholarships to the students with the top 10 innovative ideas for a better Michigan.

Michigan has more sugar maples than Quebec, which currently produces 70 percent of the maple syrup made in North America, and Michigan’s trees are of better quality, Kossak notes. “We could be producing more maple syrup than Quebec or Vermont—the top US producer,” he claims. “We could also become the production center for equipment used by the maple syrup manufacturers. This could be big for Michigan.”

Kossak, who plays on the offensive line for Michigan Tech’s football team, has always had a taste for maple syrup. He especially likes to eat it on ice cream. He got interested in its production when he joined Tech’s Forestry and Environmental Resource Management (FERM) enterprise program, which provides hands-on experiences for undergraduates in applied ecology and forestry. One of FERM’s projects is a small-scale maple syrup production operation, along with a series of workshops and field trips for K-12 students.

Mike Ross, a Rudyard, Mich.-based maple syrup wholesale bulk producer and equipment salesman, sold FERM some equipment for their maple syrup project, and he and Kossak started talking.  “In seven minutes, I had three pages of notes,” Kossak recalls.

He also had the beginnings of a provocative idea for helping Michigan turn its economy around. When Motivate Michigan put out a call for college students to submit their innovative ideas for improving their state, Kossak was quick to propose his maple syrup solution.

It quickly made the top 10 of 280 ideas submitted, and in a public online vote that followed, Kossak moved up into the top five. He and the four other finalists were invited to Livonia to make a personal presentation before Motivate Michigan judges on May 24.

“Only one-hundredth of one percent of the sugar maples in Michigan are tapped,” he points out. Quebec taps 34 percent of its trees.  “We could be producing 280 million gallons of maple syrup a year in Michigan.”

There are obstacles to that sweet future, of course, including access to land and a need for tax credits to enable large-scale development. But Kossak is convinced that these hurdles can be overcome.

As a forestry major at Michigan Tech, he is focusing on sustainable business and marketing aspects of forestry. He is also working to earn a certificate in industrial forestry. Kossak hails from Columbiaville, Mich., where he attended the Lapeer County Schools.

If his maple syrup dreams materialize, he’s hoping to work with Michigan Tech to develop a larger Sugarbush program and to consider offering a certificate in maple syrup production.

Michigan Technological University (mtu.edu) is a leading public research university developing new technologies and preparing students to create the future for a prosperous and sustainable world. Michigan Tech offers more than 130 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering; forest resources; computing; technology; business; economics; natural, physical and environmental sciences; arts; humanities; and social sciences.