Special to The Times
Valdosta was host to a two-day Environmental Studies School on Nov. 4, 5, sponsored by the Camellia District of The Garden Club of Georgia, Inc., in conjunction with Valdosta State University's Learning in Retirement.
Twenty-eight participants from three states completed the course. Instructors for the classroom units included current or former VSU biology professors and instructors: James Whitesell, Ph.D., Gretchen K. Bielmyer, Ph.D., Elizabeth (Bette) Bechtel, and J. Richard Carter, Jr., Ph.D., VSU professor and herbarium curator, who also provided a private tour of the Herbarium.
Also formerly of VSU was Robert Bauer, Ph.D., retired head of the Department of Psychology and Counseling.
The other classroom presenters were Brad Alexander, Georgia Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist, and Geoff Rockwell, Georgia Forestry Commission stewardship specialist.
Of great anticipation for the participants in the months leading up to the course was the two-hour natural site field trip to Lake Louise, led by Bradley J. Bergstrom, Ph.D., a VSU biology professor. Lake Louise is a 13-acre blackwater lake surrounded by a 170-acre property owned by VSU and used as an outdoor laboratory.
Bergstrom provided a wealth of information on the flora surrounding the lake, including the redbay tree, at-risk due to Laurel wilt disease.
Wildlife sightings occurred as well, including various insects, an anhinga, and even an alligator, shortly after which a few of the attendees opted to return to the van. Others forged ahead on the raised boardwalk which surrounds much of the lake. It was an educational and exhilarating experience, which could be said of the entire two-day course.