College hosts faculty forum with Mohonk Preserve

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Wilderness Act, SUNY New Paltz held a faculty forum with the Mohonk Preserve in the Honors Center on Wednesday, Sept. 10 at 10:30 a.m.

“The College and Mohonk Preserve mutually benefit from their connection with one another,” President Donald P. Christian said during his opening remarks. “Our faculty and students have enriching, out-of-classroom experiences and the preserve can utilize the expertise of dedicated scholars and students, who have served as interns.”

Mohonk Preserve’s Executive Director Glenn Hoagland said he is “tremendously proud of the enduring relationship.”

“We really hope all of this work transforms the lives of students and serves as a training ground for the next generation of conservation, educational and scientific leaders,” Hoagland said.

Centered on the strong partnership between the two institutions, the forum featured biology department assistant professors David Richardson, Carol Rietsma, Eric Keeling and student James Byam. The panelists presented their forum to a crowd of faculty members, staff, students, community members and Mohonk Preserve employees.

Richardson, who works in collaboration with Mohonk Preserve, the New York State Environmental Bureau and state Department of Environmental Conservation, oversees students who conduct research applicable towards many different areas. The students’ data are used for efficient preservation, in papers they present regionally and nationally, and by other professionals in the field.

“[The partnership] is not something you typically get in an academic experience,” Richardson said. “Where you can actually have the students see what kinds of jobs are available but also see that their scientific data is contributing towards decision making around these natural resources.”

The Wilderness Act of 1964 has established a legacy of land protection and conservation is further perpetuated by the panelists and others actively researching and supporting Mohonk Preserve.

Byam, a biology major, interned at Mohonk Preserve this past summer and lauded the experiences he gained through the conservation internship.

“I think it’s important to talk about how useful it is for a student to be thrown into the kind of environment where they are doing real work,” Byam said. “The Mohonk Preserve can provide you with experience which is something really hard to come by at an undergraduate level.”

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