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Vernal Pool Awareness Exhibit: A Collaboration of the Arts and Sciences

By Dalton Puffer
On February 15, 2019

Two weeks ago, at the end of January, the culmination of a long-time collaboration between the Arts and Science department was finally unveiled on the main floor of the Silver Center.

New Hampshire is a state which, unfortunately, lacks the people and resources to catalog local vernal pools. Because of this shortage, our state’s vernal habitats are left vulnerable to public misuse as not many people realize how sensitive wetlands are or how much wildlife they truly host. It was for this reason that, in the spring of 2016, PSU Professor of the Environmental Sciences Rachelle Lyons spearheaded a Cluster Project to change that.

Lyons began by including the project in her student’s coursework at PSU. Jacob Clark, a senior Environmental Science and Policy major who has been working on the project with Lyons since its outset, said in an interview that they began by “tracking the presence and absence of amphibians and to identify stressors and threats [of the habitats].” This was the sort of information that the state’s environmental departments were lacking, said Clark.

Lyons wanted to include more than just the students. She wanted to get the community involved. She and her students began to work with “landowners and municipal leaders” to “address information gaps and empower individuals and groups to preserve local biodiversity.” (as cited from a poster on display at the exhibit)

Furthermore, she saw this project as a fantastic opportunity to include more than just students of the sciences in employing community outreach. This is when she approached the director of The White Mountain Museum, Cynthia Robinson, and her students of the arts to collaborate.

About a year ago, the two began planning the exhibit that is currently on display at the Silver Center. Katama Rose Murray, who was asked to help curate the project due to her discipline as an eco-art student here at PSU, said in an interview that “their goal was to collaborate as artists and scientists to visually display the work that students and the community have been working on throughout time.”

Since that time a year ago, Lyons, Robinson, and their various students of the arts and sciences have participated in many outreach events with the community. They have been to the Blue Heron School in Holderness, New Hampshire twice to work with the children on art projects and introduce them to vernal habitats and their sensitivities.

The research for this project is currently ongoing. The exhibit will remain on display in the Silver Center’s main lobby until February 28th.

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