WEST LIBERTY, W.Va., April 21, 2021 — Just in time for Earth Day, West Liberty University (WLU) students in Professor James Wood’s biology and ecology classes are planting trees in Wheeling’s public spaces and on campus.
Last Saturday students planted two types of native flowering trees along a portion of the Heritage Trail along the Ohio River, near WesBanco Arena.
The purchase of the trees was made possible thanks to a grant obtained by West Virginia University Agricultural Extension Agent and Wheeling resident Karen Cox.
“These trees will add beauty to this public green space in the city, supporting birds and other pollinators while also providing shade for trail users in the height of summer heat,” said Wood. “Adding trees along the trail makes it better for everyone.”
But the students’ work wasn’t done just yet.
On Sunday these students partnered with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in addition to WVU Extension, to work on the National Wildlife Refuge at the northern tip of Wheeling Island.
“The Wildlife Refuge is a such a great resource for the public and for wildlife. It offers beautiful views of the river and is a great place to go bird watching close to downtown,” said Wood.
“We are pleased to be a part of improving Wheeling’s public spaces.”
The outreach and service projects also provide WLU students with a hands-on look at careers in natural resources. Extension Agent Karen Cox and U.S. Fish and Wildlife representative Elian Barr spoke with students about working to protect and restore natural areas and educating the public about managing for endangered species and invasive exotic plants.
“Our next project is closer to home, we’ll plant trees on campus near Campbell Hall,” said Wood. The on-campus planting takes place from 1 – 5 pm, Friday, April 23.
“The goal is to increase educational opportunities on campus, while making campus more visually attractive and promoting conservation. This round of tree planting will support the planting event last fall when over 40 native trees were planted by students during a service project.”
Dr. Wood is a faculty member in the biology department in the College of Sciences. Biology majors include Environmental Stewardship and Education; Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology and Zoo Science. Students also have the opportunity to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Human Biology + Master of Science Physician Assistant Studies degree through the 3+2 program.