Master of Environmental Studies students explore wetlands up close

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By Katherine Unger Baillie
September 29, 2017

Dr. Sally Willig, a lecturer and advisor in the Master of Environmental Studies (MES) program, recently brought her students on a kayak tour to explore a freshwater tidal marsh in southern New Jersey as part of her wetlands course. Field trips give MES students the unique opportunity to become fully immersed in the diverse ecosystems studied in the program. The course dives into the geological, biological, ecological and political perspectives on wetlands.

Sally’s 11 students took a trip along New Jersey’s Maurice River. They started at a century-old farm that is the last to be protected by dikes along the river, and where students had the opportunity to talk with the landowner. The group then moved upriver to catch the high tide for a kayak tour of the Natural Lands Trust’s Peek Preserve, home to red-winged blackbirds, rails, bald eagles, osprey and abundant wild rice.

The day ended along the Delaware Bay at a former salt hay farm, which was restored to a low marsh, as a part of a New Jersey utility company’s estuary enhancement program. They also explored a high marsh along the road to Moores Beach, a community abandoned due to sea level rise.

Sally has a deep background in wetlands, having worked for The Nature Conservancy providing inventories of the plants, soil types and wildlife dwelling in natural areas of eastern Pennsylvania and for a local consulting firm focused on wetlands.

View photos of the hands-on adventures on Flickr>

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