Since 2001, the University of Virginia’s College at Wise has been undergoing changes that will enhance their science program. With the opening of The Wetlands Education and Research Facility the community has created an environment perfect for exploring local environmental issues.
In 2001 the University of Virginia’s College at Wise began the project to construct The Wetlands Education and Research Facility. The college used this to expand views of land recovery and Abandoned Mine Drainage (AMD) remediation practices.
With the opening of this facility the UVa-Wise community is creating a learning environment that allows students to study and understand local ecology, species identification, water monitoring, and many more local environmental issues.
When asked about how The Wetlands Facility will affect the campus’ science program, Dr. Wally Smith said, “The Wetlands Education and Re- search Facility will be absolutely huge for our programs here in the Department of Nat- ural Sciences. We have been forced to meet for class in the Science Center and carry equipment down the trail be- hind the building to the Wetlands. While this isn’t a bad experience in and of itself, this has resulted in us losing valuable instructional time in class due to having to lug gear to and from the Science Center.
“The WERF will allow us to actually meet for class directly at the Wetlands,” Smith added. “Not too many colleges have this capability, and this will give us an added dimension to what we can offer course-wise in the department.”
Although this facility will have a massive effect on UVa- Wise science programs this facility is also set up to allow anyone that is interested in learning about the local environment an opportunity to understand what is occurring in this outdoor habitat. Dr. Smith also said that The Wetlands Facility is planning to host K-12 student tours in the future and the facility as already hosted the area’s first chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalist Program meet which included more than 20 community members and several alumni of the college.
With this facility the possibilities are endless as to how The Wetlands will affect future research. Although the facil- ity has not yet had a student perform individual research, Dr. Smith believes that the students will find the facility extremely beneficial to enhancing their research.
The Wetlands Education and Research Facility is located near Culbertson and Commonwealth Hall.