Mackenzie Porter and Samantha Dundas of the Essex Region Conservation Authority and biochemistry student Dave UreWatershed research technicians Mackenzie Porter and Samantha Dundas of the Essex Region Conservation Authority and biochemistry student Dave Ure clear a biofilter at the Lebo Creek Wetland.

Alumni contribution to fund wetland research and outdoor education

A $50,000 donation from the University of Windsor Alumni Association will fund two projects to further science and education in partnership with the Essex Region Conservation Foundation:

  • researching methods of removing phosphorus from Lake Erie at the newly-constructed Lebo Creek Research Wetland; and
  • developing an outdoor classroom at Holiday Beach Conservation Area.

Dave Ure, a graduate student of biochemistry under the supervision of professor emeritus Bulent Mutus, has already begun investigating ways to filter phosphorus out of water headed to Lake Erie through the wetland.

Specially-designed biofilters send the water through materials to determine whether they retain phosphates, which can contribute to the formation of dangerous algal blooms. Currently, the research is testing tomato plant roots, a specialized sawdust, and iron filings from scrap metal processing.

“The beauty of this is that we’re taking something people would otherwise throw away,” noted Dr. Mutus. “This funding has allowed us to create three identical stations to directly compare methods.”

The outdoor facility slated for Holiday Beach will accommodate school groups as well as visitors who come from around the world to observe raptor migration, said Susan Stockwell Andrews, president of Essex Region Conservation Foundation.

“A compelling body of evidence clearly shows that introducing kids to nature has numerous health benefits, including increased physical activity, healthier body weight, better concentration, reduced symptoms of ADHD and anxiety, and improves energy,” she said. “The outdoor classroom will allow us to connect more students to nature, and help foster an interest in science and technology.”

The conservation authority plans to have the facility completed by the spring at a cost of $20,000.

Beth Ann Prince, president of the Alumni Association’s board of directors, said its contribution to both projects aligns with its mission to add value to the lives of alumni and students.

“Supporting environmental projects such as the Lebo Creek Research Wetland is important,” she said. “This partnership with Essex Region Conservation will benefit students of all ages, alumni, and the community in which we live.”

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