Forest City, Iowa – Several Waldorf College biology majors got hands-on experience in forest restoration as they performed a controlled burn at Pilot Knob State Park.
One of the participating students was Troy Hobscheidt, a senior at Waldorf. This was Hobscheidt’s first controlled burn project and he enjoyed the smoky experience. “It lets us apply what we learn in the classroom to an actual ecosystem management project,” said Hobscheidt. “I try to participate in any projects that relate to my career field. It gives me hands on experience as well as the opportunity to network with managers in the field.”
“A controlled burn like this gives the students a new perspective on ecology,” said Dr. Paul Bartelt, biology professor at Waldorf College. “Fire is misunderstood in the public. This was a good hands-on opportunity to show what good fire can do,”
The state park organizes a controlled burn every two or three years to promote healthful new growth in the forest. Recent budget cuts have made it difficult to continue such maintenance projects, which increases the impact Waldorf students have on the local ecology.
“I think it’s great that Waldorf students come out to help with the burn,” said Deb Coates, park ranger at the state park. “It helps us reestablish the prairie that used to be here before.”
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