Near the end of their Spring semester, a group of dedicated Mars Hill University (MHU) students spent a Saturday volunteering for “the good of a bird that can fit in the palm of your hand,” according to workday organizer Travis Bordley, SAHC’s Roan AmeriCorps member.
Led by Professor Laura Boggess, the thirteen student volunteers helped manage habitat for Golden-winged Warblers (GWWA) along the Appalachian Trail in the Highlands of Roan. The workday was supported with a license plate grant from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC).
“With the support from Laura and the ATC, the volunteer engagement for this workday was at an all time high,” said Travis. “Now THAT is the kind of hustle we like to see from the future leaders of conservation in our landscape.”
Professor Boggess is strengthening the MHU Environmental department with fun field activities and thought her students would be perfect candidates for assisting in the workday. She was delighted to hear about the grant funding as well as SAHC’s habitat management efforts.
These students worked on a phase of management that requires the removal of undergrowth and fallen trees so that grassy areas can be mowed. The warblers favor shrubby, early successional habitat with a certain ratio of trees to open space. Now that the students have cleared the undergrowth around the remaining trees, the area is clear for mowing and the GWWA can enjoy that regenerating habitat.
Not only did the volunteers get to walk away feeling proud of their efforts, but they also got to enjoy the stunning scenery of a beautiful April day in the Roan Highlands.
“It was so enjoyable hiking on the Appalachian Trail,” said student Roulin Qi. “The scenery and nature was so beautiful. It’s so meaningful to me, I truly got some good time with our teammates.”
About Golden-winged Warblers:
Golden-winged Warblers are a neo-tropical, migratory songbird. They over-winter in Central and South America and spend their summers in Western North Carolina, particularly enjoying the Highlands of Roan. This amazing little bird migrates roughly 2,000 miles every year. Unfortunately their conservation status is “nearly threatened”, as determined by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Their numbers have declined sharper in the past half-century than any other bird species due to habitat loss in their southern and northern ranges. They are a top priority species to SAHC and the ATC.