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Students Explore Ecosystems of Outer Banks


Eleven ecology Surry Community College students went on the field trip of a lifetime during their spring break in March with Biology Instructor Grayson Patton. The trip occurred before the COVID-19 pandemic started affecting North Carolina. The students visited the Outer Banks from Corolla to Ocracoke and studied coastal ecology, saltmarsh ecology, and migrating bird ecology.

“We hoped to learn the significance of barrier island systems, and the role they play in sustaining biodiversity and ecosystem functioning,” says Patton. “In today’s world, it is tough to find coastal areas without hotels, strip malls, and commercial buildings. Being able to see what a barrier island system should look like is a rewarding experience. It also shows us the importance of protecting these areas for future generations.”

Patton goes on to say, “A stand-out experience is always seeing a student’s face light up when they see the beauty of an ecosystem, which has had little human impact. It is always my hope that students walk away with a more substantial appreciation of wild areas and strive to protect them throughout their lives. More now than ever, we need wild areas to remind us that life exists outside of the society we have created.”

Participating students included: Ruth Caudle of Lambsburg, Va.; Celena Pardue and Jessica Huson of Elkin; Dawson Faulwetter of East Bend; Janea Yaksetic and Erica Castillo-Duran of Hamptonville; Kenneth Uribio and Polly Kreh of Dobson; Daniel Grande Cortes of Lowgap; and Briana Teter, Carmen Smith, and Rebecca Billos of Mount Airy.

The field trip was funded through the Ecology Wildlife Fund of the Surry Community College Foundation.

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