Thinking Outside the Classroom: Environmental Responsibility

On the overcast morning of April 9, in the midst of water quality testing along the Conococheague, a group of students from the ENV 110: Introduction to Environmental Science class took their commitment to environmental responsibility a step further by untangling a young robin from the hold of tangled fishing line.

The lab group from the Introduction to Environmental Science class, consisting of Sadie Repp ‘16, Jessica Larkin ‘18, Brant Schwartz ‘18, Cody Dunlap ‘18, Erin Stephan ‘18, and Danniele Fulmer ‘17, never expected to make such an impact during their morning field work for class. What was meant to be a quick lab day out in the field turned into an extended escapade for the group.

While walking along the Interpretative Trail behind Wilson’s Fulton Farm, the group came across a robin that was tangled in a significant jumble of fishing line that had been left behind. Luckily, there was a pocket knife on hand to cut the bird free from the clutches of the fishing line. After a period of struggle on the robin’s part, along with wet boots from wading across the Con, and plenty of crossed fingers, the bird was released from the grasp of the fishing line.

Larkin reflected on the experience, “So to the heavens I said ‘Amen,’ to the robin I said ‘Good Day,’ and to the fisherman, I said ‘Where the hell is your sense?’ Biodegradable does not mean instantaneous and just because it is fishing line does not mean that you only catch fish.”

Dr. Edward Wells, a professor and chair of Environmental Studies at Wilson added, “I stress to students the importance of making observations in lab exercises. When they observed this helpless bird tangled in fishing line left by some thoughtless person, and took immediate action to rescue the bird, I was so proud of this group for taking the initiative to do the right thing. It took a concerted group effort to accomplish this task.”

While this adventure for the class proved to be one for the books, it also functioned as an eye-opening experience. The group would like to shine light on the importance of environmental responsibility when it comes to activities such as fishing and hunting. Negligent actions such as leaving fishing line behind can create dangerous situations for wildlife. It is important to be conscientious of the repercussions that can occur at the face of carelessness.

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