The Possibilities of LeSuer Environmental Preserve At Monmouth College there are off-campus places that can be utilized for learning, one of which is the LeSuer Environmental Preserve. This environmental preserve is an excellent place to go for students to take time and relax by connecting to nature and themselves. LeSuer is about a ten-minute walk from campus and is right next to the Peacock Memorial Athletic Park.
According to Tom Snee, the land for LeSuer was made possible by alumni William and Arlene LeSuer, who bought and then donated the land to Monmouth College (14). Their reasoning to do so was to give back to the school that had helped set the base for them to advance as far as they had in their careers. The primary purpose of the donation was to give students an outdoor classroom that would allow them to do research on different species of plants and animals, the population growth rates, and more. When the land was new to the college, the students learned through helping to restore the area and the base levels of ecological systems that will lead to growth; which means that they restored the land to the state that allowed plants to start to live efficiently in the soil again. Students are now able to go with their classes and observe aspects of biology that would have not been captured in the classic classroom. Why Restore? The first few years after LeSuer was acquired by Monmouth College, the focus first was to restore the land to what it was in Precolonial times and to add trails throughout the 1.25 mile loop (“Monmouth”). The trail project was funded by a grant from the Federal Recreational Trails Program and would provide access to the ecological restoration projects. Susan Dagit, Monmouth College’s Director of Advancement of Corporate and Foundation Gifts stated “We needed this grant to build the trail that will accommodate both educational and recreational purposes”(“Monmouth”). Students use the LeSuer Environmental Preserve to do research on which species work well with other species and the growth rate of trees, other plants or the populations of animals.
The restoration process was guided by teachers and allowed students to rehab the area and make it better. The basic reasoning behind restoration is as follows: “Restoration as an active attempt actually to reinstate the species and processes characteristic of a historical ecological system is a distinctively American, or New World conception of the more general task of environmental healing or rehabilitation . . . ” (“History”). The restoration done at LeSuer enabled different species to thrive or return to thriving in this environment because the habitat was brought back to what it was prior to the ecological harm it went through. In the article “Prairie Restorations can Protect Remnant Tallgrass Prairie Plant Communities,” Rowe, Fargione, & Holland assert that restoring prairie habitat helps species thrive: “The top two causes for species extinction and endangerment worldwide, and in the United States, are habitat loss and introduced species” (Rowe et al. 26). With the restoration done, animal species that may have been stressed or endangered can return and live in their natural habitat that may have been lost or invaded by other species who came over to the land.
Three Worlds in One? The plot of land was divided into three separate but interdependent ecosystems. The existing stream, bottomland and forest ecosystem make up about ten acres. An acre is dedicated to create a sustainable agriculture farm to grow organic crops. Snee states that the most intense work was to convert about five acres into a prairie, which consists of the sides and tops of the hills south of Markham Creek (14). According to Rowe et al., “Tallgrass prairie is one the most endangered ecosystems in North America, with less than one percent of its original extent remaining” (“Prairie Restoration”). While restoring the prairie, seeds from existing prairie areas in western Illinois were harvested and transplanted into LeSuer to ensure that grass native to these areas were used. Rowe et al also communicated that not only was the area restored to what it would have once been, the transplanted grass made it possible to not get invaded by other species of plants or weeds to take over the prairie. The restoration process restored the land back to what it once was and more because now the area can be used for both environmental and educational purposes.
The most appealing attraction from my perspective is the beauty that you can observe and feel while walking through the preserve; this feeling overcomes you and helps you understand the bigger picture of life and that there is more out there than the things right in front of you at school or work. LeSuer Environmental Preserve has been a major supplement in my life because I have the opportunity to go there and forget about the pressures weighing me down, and just enjoy everything it has to offer. This preserve is a place where there is a path that allows you to get lost in thought, and yet always leads you to where you need to be.
"Biological Field Station Will Provide Source of College Studies for Years to Come." The Register--Mail 1998: n. p. Print.