Monday, March 10, 2014

Susan Koch: University experience reaches to Emiquon

The following is a portion of a column published in The State Journal-Register on March 9, 2014.

"Some of the most important opportunities that make up an exceptional university experience occur well beyond the classroom and the campus. For many students who attend the Springfield campus of the University of Illinois, some of the best of those opportunities happen about an hour northwest of Springfield near Havana—at Emiquon.

In 2007, The Nature Conservancy and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service identified this 7,000-acre stretch of land along the western bank of the Illinois River to transform it from farmland back to its natural state—a river floodplain. The intent was to re-establish the ecological diversity that had once sustained generations of plant and animal life. This remarkably successful project represents one of the first and largest river reclamation efforts anywhere in the world.

Recognizing that the reclamation would be a unique opportunity, University of Illinois Springfield biology professor Dr. Michael Lemke, whose research focuses on freshwater ecosystems, proposed that UIS partner with the Nature Conservancy to establish a field station at Emiquon to study and document this immense experiment. Today, Lemke serves as director of the field station, and thanks to his leadership and the involvement of many other UIS faculty, staff and supporters, the UIS Therkildsen Field Station has become a thriving, year-round, interdisciplinary teaching and research facility that has hosted hundreds of scientists, teachers, students and interested visitors."

Read the full column online