Natural Lands Surveys and Restoration Projects
Several students have served as interns with governmental agencies in the Chicago area. Their assignments were to collect and interpret data on wetlands including stream banks, flood plains, fens, marshes, and spring discharge areas.
Lake Michigan (Wakegan) Harbor/Shore Erosion
Christopher Williams worked with the U.S. Geological Survey in a comprehensive study of shoreline change. Variables such as human impacts, seasonal and climatic variations, and coastal properties were utilized in producing computer models. Study findings were employed in a Corps of Engineers plan to fortify certain parts of the harbor area.
The Geology faculty has also supervised a number of international six month internships for Geology and Environmental Science majors participating in Wheaton College's Human Needs and Global Resources program. These internships, located in developing countries around the world, provide students with hands-on training and experience while giving them opportunities to use their skills and knowledge in service to some of the world's poorest communities.
Bangladesh Crop Preservation
Micah Ingalls spent four months helping S.I.M. with community development projects in West-central Bangaldesh. He took primary responsibility for analyzing the conditions of onion storage prior to marketing. His observations of climatic variation and experiments to control variation have provided valuable data. Adjustments to storage environments based on Micah's work will save an average of 20% of the onion crop typically lost to mildew, rot, or over desiccation.
Water Resource Assistant in Ethiopia
Bret Swigle worked with a Lutheran development agency in Ethiopia. He was primarily an assistant in water-well drilling and in water-resource assessment, and spent significant time correlating the regional landforms and geology with the potential for high-capacity ground water supply. He also observed many of the degradations in Ethiopia that came from civil war and drastic land-use policies.
Erosion Assessment in the Philippines
Rachel Reese and Joanne Scigliano served with a Baptist mission in the Philippines. In each case, their project concern was with the difficulty in sustaining productive agriculture on very steep, deforested slopes. Many of the world's non-industrialized regions have hilly or mountainous topography and precarious slopes for growing crops. Unfortunately, these undesirable sites are often all that is available to the poor. Fertile agricultural land is either scarce or belongs to the rich in the valley areas. Rachel and Joanne studied various crop and tillage combinations that would produce better yields with less labor and erosion. Erosion is a widespread problem in the Philippines, where rainfall is plentiful and comes in torrential storms.
Tanzanian Water Supply
Michael Lowe went to Tanzania to serve with World Vision's national ministry. Mike split time between office work and his project of regional hydrogeology. The area of Mike's service is south of Lake Victoria, in the Shinyanga District. Seventy years ago this region was densely forested and contained great biodiversity, including many large mammals. Human migration and land-use practices stripped away native vegetation to the extent that thousands of square kilometers are now arid land. Insects, reptiles, and a few species of birds are remnants of the previously rich ecosystem. Rainfall patterns have been greatly modified. Flowing streams have become mostly dry valleys. The local people are suffering from the lack of any consistent water supply and the related poor quality of agriculture. Mike developed various alternative solutions for the problems of potable water supply. He first studied the ground water conditions and then suggested measures to protect wells from contamination.
Uganda Land-Use Practices
Anita Deeg served in east Africa with a community development mission near Mbali in Uganda. Anita studied broadly for her Wheaton degree, and combined her interests in geology, economics and linguistics to evaluate land-use practices as an internship project. After a detailed survey of women farmers along the western slope of Moutn Elgon, Anita was amazed to find that the people had very little cultural wisdom regarding their lands. The survey discovered that the local farmers had been in the area for no more than three generations and that their tribes had been forced there by political conflict. Farming around Mount Elgon is uniformly successful only because the natural environment provides all the rainfall and fertile soil needed. However, human ignorance does have the potential to abuse the situation if proper adjustments are not made. For example, erosion is already beginning to accelerate in some places where inappropriate cultivation exists. Anita concluded that simple environmental education is essential for the continuation of agricultural productivity and human welfare.
Honduras Land Restoration: Eric
Showell and Peter Newell went to Honduras as interns with Project Global Village involved in land restoration and preservation. Their particular focus was to study a watershed region that drained a national park. Eric was primarily concerned with measuring stream-flow characteristics, including discharge, temperature, and sediment load. He found a direct correlation between forestry practices and water quantity and quality. Pete's job was to survey the park boundaries with GPS (Global Positioning System) and prepare maps using GIS (Geographic Information System) technology. This computer-based analysis determined that not only was the park area threatened by illegal logging but that people and their livestock were being harmed several kilometers away by the same activity.
Congo (Zaire) Integrated Land-Use
Emily Loeks spent her internship in what was Zaire. Her main interest was in integrated food production and land use. Her host was a Christian agricultural development organization working in the western part of the country. She studied about using appropriate planting and nurturing techniques in an experimental farm context. She also saw how irrigation, agro-forestry, and crop rotation might be optimized together. She assessed local attitudes about life by administering a survey. Emily found that local as well as national politics played a huge role in the lives of her new friends.
Storage of Irrigation Water in South Africa
Robert Mark went to intern in South Africa with a group that works with poor among the Zulu. His specific problem dealt with improving the delivery of irrigation water to farm fields at various elevations about the water sources. Rob studied different options for sealing the surface of impoundments to store irrigation water. In one experiment, he discovered that a chemical additive actually enhanced penetration of water through the soil instead of hindering it. This conclusion was a major surprise, but it helped avoid a very costly mistake. Rob finally suggested that compacting natural clay-rich soils is far more reliable, cost effective and environmentally appropriate in water storage.
Soil Quality in Ghana
Rachel Kuseske was an intern in Ghana. She was hosted by a Christian physician and lived with poor families while she studied the relationship between soil quality and natural fertilizers. Chicken manure was available in large volumes locally, so it was chosen as a potentially effective and relatively inexpensive fertilizer. Rachel's test plots indicated that the manure was successful in increasing crop yields but that it was needed in amounts that could not be maintained by the local poor. In terms of cost effectiveness, commercial chemical fertilizers were preferable over manure. This did not consider the possibility of some water pollution, however. Further testing may show that natural and commercial soil amendments could be blended for the best results.
Farming Practices and Soil Quality in Honduras
Donovan Paschal worked in rural Honduras with Project Global Village. He studied the chemistry and fertility of soils in plots using different farming practices. His results will help farmers chose the right methos for their crops.