Monday, May 18, 2015

Goodwin-Niering Center Cleans Up The Dodge Paddock and Beal Preserve

 By Julia Serafin and Marissa Gildea

“Wow!” “This is amazing!” “The site is so beautiful!” “Conn kids should explore Mystic and Stonington more often.” These were common phrases heard as a group of Connecticut College’s Goodwin-Niering Center students and professors traveled to the Dodge Paddock and Beal Preserve on Sunday, April 19. The group of students and professors helped Avalonia members clean up the site for the third annual spring work day. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping, and the salty coastal breeze cooled off the hard working volunteers; it was the perfect day to be outside. The work day provided a different type of learning for many of the students who would usually be spending their Sunday buried in a library cubby finishing lab-write ups and finding literature for research papers. 

The GNCE Team hard at work.
Once we reached the preserve and jumped out of the Connecticut College vans, we put on our gloves, grabbed rakes, and got right to work. A small group of students raked and piled dead reeds. The rest of the students loaded brush, large tree stumps, and logs into trucks going to the dump. Beth Sullivan and others spoke to us about the brush we removed. We were happy to pile swallow-wort onto the truck after learning about how it confuses monarch butterflies. Marissa used her muscles to help Avalonia members saw a huge tree branch in half. Over three truck loads of brush were removed from this end of the site!

A truck piled-high! 

Mei and Moriah rake the reeds! 

As 1 pm neared, we took a much needed lunch break to refuel. While we munched on delicious entrees from the Pita Spot, vegetables, snacks, and cookies (Yum!), conversations included summer internships at sustainable farms, becoming a vegetarian, and preserve history. We were interested to learn that much of the preserve was used for an annual Easter baseball game. Also, we had fun delicately tip-toeing from one rock to another observing the sparkly blue water and serene snails. Playing with Anne Nalwalk’s dog was a big hit as well. BG was cute and cuddly!

The GNCE Dodge volunteers.
After lunch, we created a pile and loaded one last truck with brush. In addition, we searched the preserve for fallen tree branches. All of us were really happy with what we accomplished. We were able to refresh the site and create piles that can be removed in the future; we got more done than we thought we would! The preserve service was over, but the work day was not yet finished. On our way back to Conn College, we took a quick ride over to the Avalonia office. We enjoyed seeing what Avalonia works with outside of the actual preserves and snapped some pictures, too!

Photographs by Avalonia volunteers.

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