In my Oct. 13 column, I advocated bringing alumni back to Fredonia to enjoy the many features it offers. To my surprise, I found that there are such organizations dedicated to giving our SUNY students such a sense of home that they will want to come back. Greystone Nature Preserve harbors 31 trees planted by students of the Environmental Literature class taught by Dr. Christina Jarvis in May 2011. As their final examination, the students were offered the opportunity to actively be environmentalists and plant trees. Through grants from NRG and the Community Fund, seven varieties of tress were offered to the students. Each student selected a tree based on its characteristics, thus learning a bit of dendrology along with the literature. The students worked in pairs to plant the trees, but each tree was GPS recorded. That means a student can return as an alumni and see the individual tree he or she planted in 2011. Hopefully, some of these students, many of whom had never planted a tree previously, will have the sense of having put down roots in Chautauqua County, and will return to experience the living symbol of these roots. These kinds of activities produce well-rounded students who want to return to a place that has nurtured, supported, and shown them the natural beauty of the Chautauqua County area.
Another local element sponsored by Greystone Nature Preserve, which offers every opportunity of bringing students back to visit our area, is the Beverly and John Ruska Bluebird Trail. The first bird houses for this trail were built by students on the Inaugural Day of Service, Sept. 22 of this year. Twenty SUNY Fredonia students gathered in the garages of the preserve on a cold, rainy and windy day to construct 17 bluebird houses. The original aim was to build only 10 houses. Claudia Ansell, a board member of Greystone Nature Preserve, coordinated the workshop and was amazed at the enthusiasm, camaraderie and intensity of purpose she observed in all of the students who volunteered for this project.
"They really care about their world and want to help in a meaningful way," Ansell said of the students.
During the construction of the bird houses, speakers from the Lake Erie Bird Club helped the students learn about our state bird. Following the constructions, Terry Mosher presented a comprehensive talk on the bluebird, which gave students a new awareness of the attributes and needs of the bluebirds, and how the students' contribution was unique and necessary. Each bird house constructed has been signed and will be monitored. Hopefully students will check back in with the nature preserve and their bird houses, so that they may see the results of their labor.
These are just two ways we can attract students back to our wonderful, and "Wonder Full," Chautauqua County.
Aren't these great ideas? Maybe we can make more trails and bird houses. Maybe BOCES could get involved and get credit for what they do.
This is just an example that started as an idea and look what it's added to our area. We need more ideas and activities like this, and beyond. There's no telling how much our volunteers will come up with. At this point we're investigating the possibilities. Our group of volunteers doesn't even have a name yet, but we're open for suggestions and for leadership. At my age, I want to be a helper. Don't be bashful. We have a lot more ideas.
Attitude is everything. We care, and we're trying. This may get off the ground and bear much fruit, or it might go nowhere. It doesn't matter. The important thing is that we're showing our true colors, and we did something about our caring. If we don't even try, then shame on us! If you're one of those people who complain about other people who do nothing for their benefits, but then don't do anything yourself, then are you any better? Yes, I'm putting you on the spot. I hope to motivate you.
Margaret Valone is a Fredonia resident. Send comments on this story to firstname.lastname@example.org