For the twenty-eighth year, Dabney S. Lancaster Community College in Clifton Forge hosted the Field Ecology Summer Regional Governor’s School from June 11 to July 5. Eleven students from five middle and high schools in the DSLCC service area learned about ecology by studying nature outdoors rather than in the classroom. The students examined forests, rivers, and wildlife throughout the highlands of Virginia and West Virginia.
A highlight of the program was a three-day backpacking trip to the Laurel Fork region of Highland County, where the Governor’s School continued its long-term monitoring of the salamander population of the area. Students captured, identified, and released 375 salamanders during a day-long study at eight elevations.
The Governor’s School also investigated the water quality of local rivers and streams. Students determined that the water quality in the Cowpasture River is acceptable by using the Virginia Save Our Streams biological monitoring protocol.
The final study focused on forest ecology, with a three-day camping trip to the Cranberry Glades, Greenbrier State Forest, and New River Gorge in West Virginia. The participants learned how to identify and measure trees to assess forest diversity and quality.
Jane DeGroot, biology teacher at Alleghany High School, and Susan Rollinson, former chemistry and environmental science instructor at DSLCC were the instructors. College students Danielle Dulaney and Alan Sites were mentor-aides for the course. Dulaney, a 2008 graduate of Alleghany High School, graduated from Bridgewater College in May and will be teaching biology at Spotswood High School in Rockingham County this fall. Sites, a 2009 graduate of Alleghany High School, attends James Madison University.
Students are invited to participate based on their interest, maturity, and potential for excelling in biology. To be considered, a first-time participant must be a rising 9th or 10th grade student in the DSLCC area. Second-year participants must be a rising 10th or 11th grade student. In early March science teachers, guidance counselors, and local gifted education teachers and administrators encourage qualified students to complete an application. Home-schooled and private-schooled students are welcome to apply through their local public school division. The Governor’s School is one of twenty Summer Regional Governor’s Schools sponsored by the Virginia Department of Education, local school divisions, and host schools, such as DSLCC. There is no cost to the student for attending a Governor’s School.
The Governor’s School web site (www.fieldecology.org) has more information and many photos of this year’s activities. Anyone wishing to learn more about the Governor’s School or provide input on future activities is invited to contact their local gifted program administrator or Jane DeGroot at Alleghany High School.
FIELD ECOLOGY GOVERNOR’S SCHOOL – Eleven area students recently completed the three-week annual Field Ecology Summer Regional Governor’s School hosted at Dabney S. Lancaster Community College June 11 – July 5. Pictured during the salamander study in the Laurel Fork area of Highland County are: Front row, from left: Jalen Hippert, Central Middle School; Hayley Oliver, Alleghany High School; Mikayla Morgan, AHS; Betsy Dowling, Lylburn Downing Middle School. Middle row, from left: Drew Harlow, CMS; Clay Adkins, CMS; Jake Daly, AHS. Back row, from left: Lindsey Tyree, AHS; Jonathan Ellis-Smith, AHS; Jonathan Church, AHS; Jessica Taylor, Maury River Middle School; Molly Austin, James River High School. Jane DeGroot and Susan Rollinson were Co-Directors for the Governor’s School. Danielle Dulany and Alan Sites were Mentor-Aides.