The Motlow College Smyrna Center Conservation and Outdoor Recreation (COR) club recently constructed and installed bird boxes as part of a joint project involving the COR club and the Smyrna biology environmental science class.
According to Kevin Fitch, assistant professor of biology and COR club sponsor, the club will collect and analyze eastern bluebird nesting activity data for the biology class. The data will be integrated into environmental science lab experiments and incorporated into COR club activities and trips.
"The state ornithologist was consulted prior to construction and installation," said Fitch. "Students are educated on the global initiatives to conserve native bird species, involving the National Audubon Society, Bird Studies Canada and The Cornell University Lab of Ornithology.
"The city of Smyrna was gracious to allow Motlow students to use some of the surrounding forested property to conduct field ecology experiments that support the student-learning outcomes for Biology 1330, environmental science," continued Fitch. "The experimental methods selected are low-impact and will only benefit the surrounding native plants and animals."
According to Fitch, the COR club encourages outdoor recreation and those activities that provide for the conservation of Tennessee plants and wildlife.
"Environmental science students and COR club members are educated on experimental design, data collection, analysis and employment in the field sciences," added Fitch. "Regional professionals are invited to lead environmental science class field trips and COR club events. This helps our students with future employment opportunities and determination of starting salaries."
In addition to the bird boxes, the COR club will also be installing an artificial habitat in the woods surrounding the Smyrna Center to attract native reptiles and amphibians. The collected data will also be analyzed in the environmental sciences course.
Bird, reptile and amphibian results will be published in the Tennessee Academy of Science and other peer-reviewed scientific outlets. Students will be encouraged to present those results and interpretations.