The Daily Southerner
“A pathway to learning” is the phrase George Anderson used to describe the wetlands trail at Edgecombe Community College (ECC). The 1,240-foot nature trail officially opened to the public Friday morning as part of the college’s 45th anniversary celebration.
“The college is committed to advancing sustainability and green practices and this trail represents a wetlands area that we have turned into a learning laboratory,” said Dr. Deborah Lamm, ECC’s president, at the trail’s grand opening. “A goal of this initiative is to improve the water quality entering the wetlands and to restore the natural habitat for plants and animals native to this area.”
Anderson, the college’s sustainability coordinator, said the biology program will use the trail as a hands-on learning tool to identify flora and fauna, study wildlife and test water quality. Beavers have built dams on the ponds surrounding the nature trail, creating what Anderson terms an “ecosystem” ripe for natural exploration.
Chris Knight, the college’s SGA president, said the SGA decided to support the wetlands project because “sustainability is important to us.”
“All the choices that we pursue and all the actions that we make today will affect everything in our future,” Knight said. “We look forward to seeing other students, faculty and staff here at the college supporting sustainability efforts.”
The SGA contributed about 33 percent of the funding for the project. Another partner for the project is the Rotary Club of Tarboro, contributing about 21 percent of the funding.
Chad Hinton, Rotary Club president, said that the trail fits in well with the Rotary International’s theme this year of “peace through service.”
“I think we’ve created a peaceful place here,” Hinton said. The Club became involved in the project during Lamm’s tenure as Club president. The Club plans to fund the building of foot bridges or walking platforms along the pond to increase the public’s access to the area in the future, Hinton said.
“The college’s hope is that everyone will be able to have access to this trail for the physical education, for the exercise opportunities, for the educational purposes and for any project venues that might be part of Boy Scouts or any of our classroom activities here at the college or in the public schools,” Lamm said.
With that said, Lamm cut the ribbon marking the entrance to the trail and the crowd eagerly began walking the trail for the first time. One of the outdoor enthusiasts in the group was Ginny McLendon, the college’s dean of enrollment management.
“I love being outside,” said McLendon. “Hopefully, it [the trail] will bring in community people who want to learn about nature.”