Last summer the Highlands Biological Station (HBS) welcomed to its campus 12 students – 11 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH) and one student from North Carolina State University – for a semester-in-residence program where students live and learn on the HBS campus.
Now approaching its 13th year, the Highlands Field Site is a program offered by the UNC-CH Institute for the Environment. The coursework includes mountain biodiversity, landscape analysis (GIS), conservation biology, southern Appalachian culture, and research. At the end of the semester, students present the results of their research at a public closing ceremony.
Research is a significant facet of the program. Each student conducts an internship project with mentors from other local conservation organizations who guide them in their research. The projects are diverse - last year students worked with staff from Coweeta Hydrologic Lab, the Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust, Highlands Nature Center, the Land Trust for the Little Tennessee, Mississippi State University, United States Forest Service, and The Wilderness Society. As a group, the students also conducted a “Capstone” research project under the guidance of Steve Foster from Watershed Science Inc. in Franklin. The group also studied the ecology and health of Caney Fork, a tributary to the Tuckasegee River. Together they assessed the habitat for various reaches of the stream, including canopy cover, substrate, surrounding terrestrial habitat, and stability of the bank from erosional forces. They also sampled fish and benthic macro-invertebrates to assess stream health from a biological viewpoint.
If you would like to know more about the program or if you know of a college-level student who would be interested in the program, visit www.highlandsbiological.org/unc-ie/. The application deadline is in February 2014.
The mission of the Highlands Biological Station is to foster research and education focused on the rich natural heritage of the Highlands Plateau. For more information visit www.highlandsbiological.org, call (828) 526-2602 or stop by 265 North Sixth Street, Highlands.