Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Emory biologist nurtures nature in his spare time

Biologist Chris Beck is one of three finalists for the 2016 Cox Conserves Heroes award, for his work with the Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve. Emory Photo/Video.

By Kimber Williams
Emory Report

As a professor of pedagogy in Emory’s Department of Biology, Chris Beck is engaged in the scientific study of laboratory teaching, with a particular focus on how inquiry-based learning impacts students' science process skills and their understanding of the nature of science.

This month, however, Beck is being recognized for his work involving a very different laboratory.

Beck has been named as one of three finalists for the 2016 Cox Conserves Heroes award for his volunteer work at the Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve (CSNP), a 28-acre wildlife sanctuary located along the floodplain of South Peachtree Creek in Decatur.

For more than a decade, Beck has volunteered at CSNP, coordinating hundreds of volunteers from both Emory and the wider community, leading fundraising efforts and managing capital improvement projects. Each finalist will be awarded $5,000 to be donated to a local environmental nonprofit of their choice. Beck has selected CSNP as his non-profit.

The final winner will be selected through an online public vote and will receive an additional $5,000 donation to their nonprofit. Voting runs through Oct. 26; final results will be announced mid-November.

Emory Report interviewed Beck to learn more about his efforts with the nature preserve.

Why is the preserve important?

From an ecological perspective, the preserve serves several purposes. It’s located on the floodplain of the south fork of Peachtree Creek, so it has a role in controlling storm water overflow and filtering the water that does flood out.

The preserve is also an important green space to a lot of wildlife, including over 150 to 160 species of birds, as well as amphibians, reptiles and a wide array of plants. It provides a great resource to both the local and broader Atlanta communities, in terms of offering a place to go and see wildlife and walk the trails.

It’s provided educational opportunities as well. Over the years, I’ve brought students from my ecology lab classes there and I know Georgia State University and Oglethorpe University use it, too. Emory has sent hundreds of volunteers there over the years. It’s provided a great way to engage the community.

Read the full interview with Beck in Emory Report.

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