On this day, the group was joined by Tara Trammell, the John
Bartram Assistant Professor of Urban Forestry in UD’s College of
Agriculture and Natural Resources. She shared some of her own research
in the field with the students, describing the complexity involved in
trying to eradicate the wide variety and large number of invasive plants
in any particular area.
“There can be so much variability in a species, even on the same
tree, that you really need to see it in person,” Trammell said. “Looking
at pictures of it in a classroom doesn’t show you everything you need
For student Lauren Barczak, a sophomore majoring in wildlife ecology
and conservation, the issue of invasive plants was already a familiar
one, but she said she welcomed the chance to get outdoors and learn more
about the subject. She initially enrolled in the Department of English
class to add a new humanities-based perspective to her scientific field
“I thought it would be good to approach my major in a different way,”
she said. “I wanted to see a different side of ecology and
The class has spent time as a group at the state park about once a
month this semester, but students also work there on their own as class
assignments, recording their visits and activities in a journal.
For Jenkins, who has previously taken environmental journalism
students to volunteer on an organic farm near campus, getting out of the
classroom is nothing new. But, he said, it’s more than just observing
the natural world up-close that engages students.
“The idea is to give them something to do, to show them how people
are taking action,” Jenkins said. “Once they start learning about these
problems, they’re so eager to do something to help address them.”
About the environmental humanities minor
The Department of English offers a minor in environmental humanities, which draws students from a wide range of majors and colleges across the University.
The program was developed to go beyond the natural sciences and
explore humanistic questions about the environment, focusing on such
subjects as environmental history, literature, ethics and public policy.
The 18-credit minor is designed both for students in the natural
sciences who want to gain a broader understanding and learn how to
better communicate their work, and for those in the humanities who want
to study environmental issues with that type of focus.
Article by Ann Manser; photos by Evan Krape