Dr. Jim Bray leads students in supporting the Mahan Forestry Program
Blackburn College puts forth significant effort each year to promote sustainability and preserve the environment: from LEED certified facilities to the annual student recycling contest. These efforts towards sustainability include Blackburn’s Mahan Forestry Program, which Marvin Mahan helped to begin nine years ago in a 2.6 acre plot on the college’s campus. “He won’t stop there.” then College President Mim Pride warned Dr. Jim Bray, biology professor and Mahan Forestry Program coordinator. As Pride expected, Mahan soon contacted Dr. Bray and helped expand the project to its current state—nearly 1,000 acres of Illinois forest planted and worked by Blackburn faculty, students, and community volunteers.
Dr. Bray speaks with great enthusiasm about the project, saying that it is “well on track with [goals for] clearing and planting” and speaking about how the project has grown to encompass other sustainability efforts such as a student who received a grant to complete a local watershed study, and another group of students who are working on a local vegetation and trail map.
The project continues to grow, both in awareness and acreage, as additional land acquisitions are currently in the works. It is largely through the efforts of volunteers that the Mahan Forestry Program continues to grow, with many people offering of their time during planting days put on by the college.
Dr. Bray hopes the project can eventually become its own designation within the Work Program, providing a dedicated student staff for the project and giving involved students the valuable experience that a Blackburn education always includes.
Students pictured with Dr. Bray and heavily involved in the current development and maintenance of the Mahan Forestry Program include Jordan Gerue, Michael Heitzig, Rachel Hart, and Kyra Schweizer (shown left to right in the photo).