Graduate Earth Systems Course Field Trip at Ellington Agricultural Center with Professor Dodd Galbreath

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On Sunday, April 15th, many graduate and potential graduate students met with Professor Dodd Galbreath at the Ellington Agricultural Center to connect what they had been learning in class with the actual environment. Each stop along the way was recorded live via Facebook Live, and can be accessed from the Lipscomb University Institute for Sustainable Practice Facebook page.

Professor Galbreath began the field trip with showing off a sinkhole that had formed in the ground, which is quite the rare sight. He continued with a few questions about the stream he stood in front of, which happened to be an ephemeral stream. He continues with a discussion about the forest biosphere, and then the journey continued. At the second stop, he discussed the understory forest restoration that is happening at Ellington. A few highlights include that honeysuckle bushes around are actually not welcome in the environment, and he pulled up a few as a demonstration. He also noted that the area he was standing in was mechanically planted to see if they could restore understory material in an established canopy to see how well it competed against invasive plants.

On the next stop, Professor Galbreath explained that the maple trees in the area reduced species evenness. Next, the class visited a constructed wetland in a former abandoned stream channel. He explained that each plant in the area needed to find its own niche so it could survive. The fifth stop focused on the restoration of the Sevenmile Creek Riparian Bank. He noted that the bank on one side has a very healthy slope, while the other side was at the bend of the creek, so there is a vertical slope. He also talked about the wildlife and how to determine if the creek is healthy or not due to the sensitivity of the species. The next stop was a visit to a 12 year old forest canopy restoration site. The slope was cut in half with a trail so that people could see the site in action. The trees below the path have less variety because they grew faster, while the trees above the path grew and died so that there could be more understory. The final stop focused on a bioretention structure, which was inspired by female engineers in Portland Oregon.

For more details, watch the Facebook Live videos following Professor Galbreath and his journey around the Ellington Agriculture Center.