Washington College CES department seeks out bird campus certification

By Autumn Scully

Elm Staff Writer

To add to their growing list of environmentally based certifications, Washington College’s Center for Environment and Society recently began the process of seeking Bird Campus certification from the Maryland Bird Conservation Partnership.

According to the Maryland Bird Conservation Partnership website, a “Bird Campus is a two-year or four-year college or university committed to reducing threats to birds and becoming more healthy for students, faculty, and employees as well as for birds.”

To handle this application, CES partnered with Chesapeake Conservation Corps to hire Fana Scott, who is submitting the application as her capstone project for the program.

Chesapeake Conservation Corps places young adults with nonprofit or government agencies around the Chesapeake Bay for one-year terms of service to help them grow their careers in restoring and protecting the environment.

Before Scott was hired, Maren Gimpel, field ecologist and outreach coordinator at Foreman’s Branch Bird Observatory with CES, was already interested in the project.

“The folks there know me and knew about the various avian projects at WC and reached out and invited us to apply for the certification a year or so ago. I didn’t have the time to put together all the documentation needed, but I thought it was a valuable thing to pursue… Having Fana with CES through the Chesapeake Conservation Corps is what got us to finally act on it,” Gimpel said.

The application consists of six categories: habitat creation, protection, and monitoring; campus forest, tree, and habitat management; limiting or removing threats to birds; education, curriculum, research, and service learning; campus energy and sustainability; and World Migratory Bird Day.

There are many different criteria the College could meet in each category, and each criterion is assigned one or two points. To submit a successful application, it must be proven with documentation that the school meets a minimum of eight criteria in at least five of the categories for a total of at least 10 points.

It is also required that the College adopts a resolution to recognize World Migratory Bird Day and holds a campus-wide event to celebrate WMBD.

Scott began filling out this application in mid-December and hopes to have it done by the end of March. However, the process takes some time.

“It’s a lot of reaching out to people to figure out who I need to be in contact with to get resources or documentation of the criteria on the application,” Scott said.

Scott has already identified which criteria the College meets and is in the process of obtaining documentation of those areas.

For example, the College is already Tree Campus and Bee Campus certified, which checks off criteria in both the second and fourth categories.

There is organized bird monitoring and data obtained from professors and students at Foreman’s Branch Bird Observatory at the College’s River and Field Campus, which checks off a criterion from the first category.

Scott also described how the CES meadow was restored to create a bird habitat, which is another criterion from the first category.

“The land used to be a brown field. It was contaminated with waste, so that process of cleaning up the land and putting in that meadow with native plants created a bird habitat,” Scott said.

Regarding recognizing WMBD, Scott has plans with the College.

“We were planning to host an event on May 5. All the details aren’t worked out yet, but we’re thinking of hosting a bird walk at the banding station at the River and Field Campus and giving people a tour of what we do there,” Scott said.

Scott also has ideas about having an event on the College’s main campus and a social media campaign to spread awareness about the importance of WMBD.

The College meets many other criteria in order to make the application complete, and it is just a matter of time and documentation until Scott is ready to submit it. In the meantime, students can anticipate the upcoming WMBD events.

Elm Archive Photo

Photo Caption: Much of the environmental achievements of WC are conducted at Semans-Griswold Environmental Hall on the waterfront.

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