Around 50 people showed up at Davis Hall on the Bridgemont CTC campus on Monday, even though there was no school in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Bridgemont faculty, staff and students, students and staff from WVU Tech, as well as community members, local volunteers from the Morris Creek Watershed Association, and local school children volunteered for a project geared at helping improve the local environment.
Prior to the hands-on portion of the event in which the volunteers constructed 25 bird houses and 10 bat houses, Dr. Deborah Beutler, associate professor of biology and sponsor of WVU Tech’s Biology Club, gave a presentation on the role of birds and bats in the community, and the importance of creating wildlife habitat.
“Bats are important to humans because they eat the insects that irritate us. For example, one little brown bat can eat 1,000 mosquitoes in an hour; they are voracious predators of insects,” she said in an earlier press release.
“Bats are nocturnal so they need a place to roost during the day. In the forest, bats roost in caves and rotten, hollow trees. In human-dominated habitats, bats can also use mines and chimneys as roosts. However, humans are eliminating roosting sites for bats by removing hollow trees, closing chimneys, and closing the entrances to mines and caves.
“The bird houses will be used by birds that are also insect eaters. Traditionally, they nested in rotting trees and the cavities made by other birds.
However, they are frequently outcompeted for those cavities by European starlings, a bird species introduced to the U.S. by humans. The bird houses we are making have a small opening and provide a nest site for the native cavity nesters. The starlings are too big to fit in the opening,” Beutler said.
Volunteers could either take the houses home with them, or donate them to be placed throughout the Morris Creek Watershed.
The event was co-sponsored by Bridgemont CTC, WVU Tech and the Morris Creek Watershed Association.
Among those who volunteered was Jordan Keenan of Hugheston, a seventh grader at Cedar Grove Community School. She attended the event with her aunt, Christina Johnson, the life science instructor at Bridgemont, and her cousins, Emily and Sydney Johnson.
“I really enjoyed it,” Keenan said. Her house was to be donated to the local watershed group, but she and her relatives planned to take a copy of the plans home to make their own in the future.
The main planning force behind the highly successful event, according to Jeanne Smith, dean of student services at Bridgemont, was Robert Jackson of Morris Creek, an AmeriCorps worker and MCWA member. “He did more work on this than anyone,” she said.
Anyone interested in working with the Morris Creek Watershed Association may check out the group’s website at www.morriscreekwatershed.org, or attend the monthly meeting on the second Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m. at the watershed office at 328 Morris Drive, Montgomery.
For more information on Bridgemont CTC, please contact Smith at 304-734-6617 or e-mail jsmith@bridgemont .edu.