Despite having almost completed their semester at Conserve School, Applied Ecology students learned new things about our campus this week during a hike with Science Teacher Andy Milbauer. Although most of the snow has disappeared from our campus, students braved the cold temperatures and bitter winds to learn more about the forest ecology of Conserve School. Hiking on the campus trails and spaces in between, students were introduced to new information about plants and trees both familiar and unfamiliar to them. Species addressed included leatherwood, balsam fir, white birch, wolly mullein, hemlock, and white cedar.
After discovering new facts about campus vegetation, the class switched directions and headed down to Conserve School’s Green Machine to learn a bit about our wastewater treatment system. The Green Machine utilizes microorganisms to convert the ammonia found in waste to nitrates. The system works as a whole food web to denitrify the wastewater with no external chemical inputs. Vegetation in the tanks provides a structure on which the microorganisms can work while also absorbing phosphorus and nitrogen. Once it has passed through the system, the water is clean enough to be returned to the groundwater via leach fields.
-Graduate Fellow Maria Kopecky