Biology Classes, Alumna Take Their Turn in Bioscience Field Station Project

Volunteer students of various majors, recruited from current biology courses, snip away at the weeds that have invaded the area over the course of several decades.
Volunteer students of various majors, recruited from current biology courses, snip away at the weeds that have invaded the area over the course of several decades.

Saturday, April 6 was another busy weekend at the north 
end of the Brenau Campus. After extensive clearing and trash removal the previous weekend by Alpha Kappa Alpha, Brenau’s Servant Leader students’ mid-week shift had to be rescheduled 
due to inclement weather. This past weekend two biology classes rose to the task where student volunteers received additional 
hands-on help from a visiting Brenau alumna, Yao Cui (WC’13) from Beijing, 
China. Throughout the Bamboo Forest and 
up the slope from the greenhouse site, students could be seen snipping away at 
areas of overgrown privet and wisteria. “Already 
the forest floor is getting more accessible, all the way down to the stream bed,”
said Prof. Jessi Shrout, whose classes were performing Saturday’s work.  “But there’s a lot more to do to eliminate the 
heavy shrubs on the slope where we hope to establish a small amphitheater for 
teaching. Fortunately, the Women’s College students have been exemplary in 
their volunteer work.”  After several 
loads of trash were removed, it became obvious that several decades of visitors 
from outside the campus had left a mark on the area. “We keep finding trash as we clear the weeds,”
said Dr. Rudi Kiefer, who oversees the project jointly with Shrout. “There was a drink cup with a 1988 Georgia 
Bulldogs logo on it. Also we found 
bottles and cans that are obviously old, but too damaged to serve as collector’s 
items. A ton of bricks, now gone, was 
littering the forest floor. They must 
have gotten there when an old house was demolished in the last century.” 

Aggressive weed removal keeps Rachael McBride (WC'15) busy in the thick growth of privet that has invaded the slopes.
Aggressive weed removal keeps Rachael McBride (WC’15) busy in the thick growth of privet that has invaded the slopes.

Once the area is rid of trash, invasive shrubs and plant 
debris the project will continue by establishing a bordered walkway, shredding 
all the cuttings to produce mulch, and building raised beds.  A request for grant funding is awaiting a 
decision, which will determine the time table for further construction of the Bioscience Field Station.  Its purpose, 
once it’s operational, will be to provide a model garden for teaching and 
research.  Chemicals-free vegetables produced 
with organic methods will be available to the campus community and local 
philanthropic organizations at a nominal cost. 
“We’ve seen examples of what other colleges, as well as community 
groups, are doing elsewhere in Georgia for the promotion of healthy farming and 
community building,” Kiefer said. “The 
location of the Field Station right here on the Brenau Campus  is an ideal opportunity to bringing these 
concepts to our students. By 
incorporating undergraduate research projects into the organic farming efforts, 
we’ll  even be taking this a step further 
than the others. “  With more help from 
student volunteers and continuing support from the administration, 2013-2014 
promises to be an exciting academic year.