Dr. David E. Russell

Bald eagle soaring through the air."For the first time we recently saw a bald eagle in the Natural Areas."

For our bird research, we band birds, assign them numbers, capture lots of data about them; we monitor them year after year for how many return and what birds use the areas. This research is important because birds are indicators of environmental health, if they are having problems than other species, including us, could be in trouble. Birds in the environment are like canneries in the mines. First warnings. Making sure common birds stay common so diversity is maintained is crucial.

You may wonder why diversity is so important. Birds are essential for dispersing seeds and plants all over the world. Many of “our” birds breed in the tropics and migrate to North America in the spring. While they are here, they disperse seeds and plants as well as eat insects. For example, fewer birds mean fewer plants, and more insects.

As future leaders, we think it is important that students experience, first hand, the environment. If they understand and have a feeling for how things work they will make better financial decisions that support and protect the environment. You can’t appreciate something you don’t know. Once you learn about something it can be life changing. Some are just in awe of what they see.

We are so fortunate to have the Natural Areas so close, varied and large. Without them, we would have to teach more from the classroom. They add tremendously to the richness of the class.