Restoration With a View

From February 27 – March 5, a group of Rollins students went on an alternative spring break Immersion to Moab, Utah, for a service learning experience of a lifetime.

In an Immersion experience this spring, Rollins students headed to Moab, Utah, and the surrounding national parks to learn about the local ecology and to support conservation efforts in a climate very different from Florida. They partnered with Plateau Restoration, a conservation education organization, to tackle conservation and wildlife habitat restoration projects during the day, and camped for seven nights in Ken’s Lake Campground in Spanish Valley, Utah.

Here, students watch the sunset in Canyonlands National Park.

Students hike in Arches National Park. While the experience full of service-learning activities, they also took the opportunity to enjoy the landscape of some of the nation’s national treasures.

Immersion experiences often give students a chance to go beyond Florida’s state boarders. Here, Jackson Nguyen ’19 plays in the snow for the first time in his life.

The local landscape and vegetation were unlike what most of the group had seen before. This is a view of the Colorado River on the edge of Canyonlands National Park seen from Potash Road.

Back at camp in Spanish Valley, students gather by their tents at Ken’s Lake. There was no running water, and during the night temperatures dropped to 30 degrees.

Andrej Ingle ’18 bundles up for the night in his sleeping bag to stay warm.

Tamsin McCormic, Plateau Restoration’s geologist and educator, teaches student about invasive species like tamarisk trees. When tamarisks are densely populated, they consume more water than the native species and threaten the native plant and tree populations.

The group clears grass at Jackson Bottom to make way for new native trees to be planted.

Students clear the invasive tamarisk trees.

To plant native willow trees, Drew DeVito ’16 (left) and Andrej Ingle ’18 (right) use a hand drill to dig down to the water table. The native trees are planted in the holes after the volunteers hit water, usually 6 to 8 feet down.

In the desert, erosion control and exotic species management is critical to re-vegetation efforts. Students learned about the adaptations of plants to dry environments and ways the invasive species gain a competitive edge.

Katelyn Bodwell (left), the Residential Life & Explorations hall director, and Ailin McCullough ’18 work together to repair an outdoor irrigation system.

After a morning of hard work, the students take a lunch break in Jackson Bottom where the temperatures reach up to 90 degrees in the daytime during the spring.

Maria Forestier ’17 digs a hole to plant a new willow tree.

The group walks through acreage that experienced a recent forest fire near Green River.

They carry water and 50 new native willow and cottonwood trees to the burn site for planting.

In the mornings, students headed from the campsite to Plateau Restoration headquarters for breakfast. Here, a group does some morning yoga with the company of Yampa, Plateau Restoration’s Golden Retriever, who traveled with the students to various work sites.

Team-building exercises were a great way to start day.

The group took an excursion to Arches National Park and hiked to Delicate Arch, a 65-foot natural arch.

On the hike, Michaela O’Driscoll ’16 finds a quiet place to relax for a few minutes.

Students follow a steep trail through Arches National Park.

Back at the campsite in Ken’s Lake, Charlotte Whiteman ’16 (left) and Michaela O’Driscoll ’16 (right) take some time to reflect on their Immersion experience.