More than 50 Ouachita Baptist University volunteers partnered with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Stream Team Friday, April 29, to observe Arbor Day by planting trees, working to improve the condition of the ravine that runs through campus and participating in other fun activities emphasizing environmental stewardship.
“This has been a good day for Ouachita,” said Dr. Brett Powell, OBU vice president for administrative services. “The ravine area was filled with students and faculty planting trees and working on other erosion control efforts. I was pleased with the turnout for our first Arbor Day celebration and hope we can build on it in future years.”
“It is so great to come outside and enjoy the fresh air toward the end of the semester when everything starts to get crazy and busy,” said Endsley McClellen, a sophomore biology major from Searcy, Ark. “Today I have had a blast serving Ouachita and serving the environment with my closest friends.”
The Arkansas Stream Team provided erosion control matting, technical assistance and litterbags, and Ouachita provided the volunteers.
“I love working in a partnership with Ouachita to complete this task,” said Steve Filipek, assistant chief of programs for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. “I have never been to a school with this many volunteers.
“We came here to do stream work in the ravine,” Filipek explained. “We wanted to create the stream to be more stable and stop polluting silt into the river. The river is an ecological sensitive water body, which means it has rare aquatic species.”
“The Arkansas Game & Fish Commission’s Stream Team was a tremendous resource in making the day a success,” Powell said. “Hopefully, that will be a long-term partnership for the university.”
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission founded the Stream Team in 1996. It began with 12 volunteers and has grown to include 750 volunteer teams such as the Ouachita team. The Stream Team focuses primarily on education, advocacy and stewardship by providing information to increase understanding and appreciation of Arkansas stream systems. According to Filipek, people with firsthand knowledge of problems, needs and solutions are better equipped to speak on behalf of the rivers and streams. The Stream Team also assists landowners and stream users to plan and carry out projects by matching them with the appropriate resources.
“There are 100,000 miles of streams in Arkansas and this state is called the Natural State so we want to keep people envious of our natural beauty,” Filipek said.
Hannah Nolan, a freshman dietetics major from Little Rock, Ark., concluded, “Today has been a great opportunity to volunteer and make our campus even more beautiful.”
For more information about Ouachita’s green initiatives, visit www.obu.edu/green.
By Meg Gosser