Highlights of a Summer at CERA:
Goats, Seeds, Weeds, Snakes, Birds, and Bugs
Grinnell College students, Colin McCallum-Cook '12, Ben Spears '12, Leslie Bean '13, and Emma Rhoades '14, are completing their 10-week adventure with research, restoration, and outreach at CERA.
The enthusiastic and energetic crew started in May, immediately assisting with preparations for the arrival of 21 goats from farmers Eric and Deb Finch of State Center, IA. The Finch's goats are part of research testing the effectiveness of goat browsing for controlling invasive woody shrubs at CERA. The crew has assisted with the daily care of the goats, observing and recording pre- and post-goat vegetation measurements, and photo-documentation.
The crew has also been monitoring snake coverboards and bluebird and wren nest boxes, establishing and monitoring butterfly transects, using an herbicide to control an invasive legume called sericea lespedeza (Lespedeza cuneata) in our prairies, chopping and removing thousands of sweetclovers (Melilotus spp) and wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa), and re-mapping the Perry Pond basin (last mapped in the 1970s).
They have also learned how to identify insects and various arthropods to taxonomic order, and are sorting through insect samples collected from white oak forest and bur oak savanna at CERA. For specimens that are tougher to identify, the students submit specimen photos to BugGuide.net, an extraordinary online resource supported by an international network of amateur and professional entomologists.
In addition to their goat, weed, snake, bird, and bug work, the students are hosting Grinnell Summer Camp kids for nature exploration, and provided an evening field tour for their fellow student peers living and working in Grinnell this summer.
Our mission is to preserve and, through restoration, recreate a part of Iowa's vanishing natural heritage, providing a resource for the entire college, local schools, environmental groups, clubs, and the general public.
50 kW wind turbine
The wind turbine erected in January 2007 will provide over 90% of the electricity needs for our 7500 sq ft Environmental Education Center. The wind power will reduce carbon dioxide emissions related to energy use by the facility by 200,000 pounds per year. Visit our Facilities page for links to more photos and videos of installation.
CERA Green Touchscreen Kiosk
The interactive kiosk in the Environmental Education Center explains the building's green design features (like the geothermal heating-cooling system, and cistern for gray water recycling), graphs real-time data on water and energy use (in comparison to similarly-sized buildings), summarizes curricular, research, restoration, and outreach uses of CERA, and provides real-time weather data from the CERA weather station. See the interactive kiosk.