During a three-week Environmental Planning and Development (EPD-202) Experiential Term (E-Term), led by Professor of Environmental Science Delia Heck and Professor Emeritus of Biology and Horticulture Bob Pohlad, seventeen Ferrum College students built, repaired, and beautified three sites on campus. In the process, they donated almost $5,600 in labor to the College, and one recent graduate even landed a job thanks to his involvement.
Alumnus Stephen Murphy completed the EPD-202 E-Term just days after earning his Bachelor of Science in environmental science this May 2021. He was then offered a job as a maintenance technician with Bedford Regional Water Authority. “My work with the E-Term and my previous job experience were key contributors for me to get the job,” Murphy explained. “During the interview, I was able to point to many examples of working with my group, and the collaboration between all of the E-Term groups. BRWA was impressed with my experience and that Ferrum has such a hands-on program.”
“This class was an excellent opportunity for our students to participate in experiential learning at its best,” said Heck. “They were able to learn about concepts of sustainability, engage in the work of repairing, building, and creating garden and riparian spaces, and develop a sense of pride in their efforts, their project, and the campus.”
For the first four days of the E-Term, the students assessed the sites: the memorial bench honoring Pohlad’s wife, the late Professor Emerita of Biology and Environmental Science Carolyn Thomas, and the riparian buffer zone and garden, all at Adams Lake; the conifer garden and the Jess Goode memorial garden, both in the campus community arboretum area; and the pond and stream feature, and wedding gazebo and garden, also in the arboretum area. Students thought about lighting and electricity aspects, hardscapes, soil types, and plant design.
The rest of the E-Term was spent in approximately 200 hours of field work. After the work was complete, the students presented to the community their processes, before and after photos, maintenance plans, next steps, and donation opportunities on Friday, May 21, 2021 in the Blue Ridge Mountain Room. A tour of the sites followed.
“After all these years of teaching, it still amazes me how well the students respond to the opportunities of experiential learning,” said Pohlad. “I saw the same enthusiasm and pride in their work this year as I saw over the last twenty. By doing these types of projects, each student leaves a legacy for future students to learn from and a place to honor the memories of those who have been an important part of our Ferrum community family. Their efforts and comments on work around Carolyn’s bench were especially touching to me.”
“This E-Term was lots of fun, lots of hard work, sweat and tears, but overall it was rewarding. We took a project that had been going on for over twenty years, worked on by many Ferrum students, faculty, and staff, and now we get to add our names to that legacy,” said rising senior Lauren Ries. “We walked into E-Term not knowing much about the projects but we walked away knowing more about landscaping, hard work, and ourselves. And we have tons of good memories. Hard work does pay off!”
“The students discovered and recovered hidden treasures, while creating their own,” said Heck. “They built memories, skills and connections that will last a lifetime.”
See photos from the EPD 202 E-Term here.
Learn more about Ferrum College E-Terms here.
Read the Roanoke Times’ coverage of the students’ presentation on May 21.