Blog Post 4

My service learning experience gave me a strong appreciation for the beauty of nature and the complexity to keep it safe and strong. Schlitz Audubon Nature Center gave me the basic understanding of the importance of preserving a land not only for the wildlife populations, but also for the people and the community. The most valuable thing I learned in the process of me completing my service was that conservation can begin anywhere, even in my own backyard. The work I was doing felt impossible because I was equating the work to the land mass. But I can make a difference in my own home. 

Some of the biggest challenges and limitations that the center was facing was the constant upkeep of combatting emerald ash borer (EAB). With not enough volunteers to spray and maintain the emerald ash, the habitat was in danger of losing ash trees.

During my first day of service, an avid volunteer Ms. Mary pulled me aside and pulled out her phone. She read the definition of emerald ash borer and explained the damage it could cause. If an ash tree becomes infested with emerald ash borer, the tree will ultimately die and will need to be removed. An EAB infestation can spread causing drought stress and soil compaction for an entire area of ash trees. According to some online data, EAB has killed at most 8.7 billion ash trees in North America.

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If an infestation is detected early, staff members and volunteers are able to treat the ash tree with a pesticide to prevent further damage and help the tree recover. Thankfully the organization is able to mitigate much of the labor to limit or stop the infestations by active volunteers. I don’t think I have any suggestions for how to overcome these challenges, because the infestations are inevitable. The only way to reduce the damage of cutting down trees is to detect the infestations early by ensuring the necessary staff members are trained to notice when it occurs.

Back to my home. I learned tips on how to have and maintain a more natural yard and or garden. I was recommended to plant different weeds to support butterflies, bees, and other creatures found throughout my yard. I was also encouraged to stop using particular insecticides, so I do not kill all insects, especially the beneficial ones. 

I plan to continue to volunteer with the Schlitz Audubon and visit other aspects of the nature center. 185 acres is a lot of land to cover, but there are many trails worth walking and more aspects of conservation to learn.

Miela Fetaw