Our Prairie Home

Knox College alumnus Chip Williams ’85, a professional photographer and assistant professor of photography at Appalachian State University, visited Green Oaks in 2011. Take a look at some of the images he captured.

Walking through a forest at Green Oaks

Tagged , , , , | Comments Off

Field Trip to St. Louis: Sculpture and Birds

Another stop on our field trip was Laumeier State Sculpture Park, a beautiful sculpture park with a site-specific art trail leading through its back woods.

The “Oakies” (students in Green Oaks Term) are responsible for creating site-specific art at a spot of their choosing here at Green Oaks, and the chance to see how other artists had approached similar issues of art, place, and the natural environment was beneficial to all.

Of course, lounging in the sun on the vast green lawns amidst various larger-than-life sculptures was pretty beneficial, too.

Sculpture park - Green Oaks Term

Green Oaks Term students visit Laumeier State Sculpture Park

We followed that up with a visit to the Riverlands Migratory Birds Sanctuary. Here, we saw white pelicans, cormorants, and a snow goose, among many other birds. We also stopped by the new Audubon Center, where we were introduced to some of the research being done at Riverlands.

All in all, it was a great trip, and we saw some amazing sights, but none better than finally getting home to see the sun set over our home sweet prairie.

Sunset at Green Oaks

Sunset at Green Oaks

Tagged , , , , | Comments Off

Field Trip to St. Louis: Pere Marquette State Park

At the end of the first day of our field trip to St. Louis, we camped at Pere Marquette State Park in Grafton, Illinois.

We were a stone’s throw from the confluence of the Mississippi River and Illinois River. (OK, you’d have to be pretty good at throwing stones, but the park is pretty close.)

Harmonicas, jaw harps, and tin whistles were brought out around the campfire, and you better believe we had s’mores! Aww, yeah.

Tagged , , , , | Comments Off

Field Trip to St. Louis: Cahokia Mounds

Our trip to St. Louis was a blast! Here are a few highlights.

First up: Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site

Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site houses the remains of a pre-Columbian civilization in Illinois, just outside of St. Louis.

Monk's Mound at Cahokia Mounds

Monk's Mound at Cahokia Mounds

The main focus of the site is Monk’s Mound, an earthwork mound that was once the center of a city with as many as 20,000 residents. The mound today is approximately 100 feet tall and 950 feet long. The stairs leading to the top are no joke.

Our visit also included a stop at the impressively well-designed museum, some on-the-fly tree and bird identification, and a parking spot next to a nesting habitat chock-full of migrating purple martins.

Tagged , , , , | Comments Off

Welcome to Green Oaks Term

Hello, Knox College!

We’re Eric Ballard ’11 and Zak Kahn ’11, the program assistants for the Green Oaks Term 2012. We’ve enjoyed almost five years of time at Green Oaks, including being part of the 2010 Green Oaks term.

Now, we’ve jumped right into the 2012 term and want to let our Knox friends know what Green Oaks is and about the journey of the Green Oaks Term.

Green Oaks prairie

Green Oaks prairie

Twenty miles east of Knox College is Green Oaks, the college’s very own biological field station and recreation area. The northern part of the Green Oaks property was strip-mined in the 1940s before the college acquired it in 1958.

Professor Paul Shepard began the work of a prairie restoration, which was taken over and finished by Professor Peter Schramm. For over 50 years, Knox has been keeping Green Oaks an important place for the college by tapping into its educational and experiential opportunities.

The Green Oaks Term was introduced to the Knox curriculum in 2002. The term is offered every other spring term and gives students the opportunity to spend 10 weeks participating in an off-campus study program at the Green Oaks field station. This year, Professors Jon Wagner, Jim Mountjoy, and Tony Gant lead students in courses that, while in different academic departments, are closely tied together by the theme of nature.

Schurr Hall at Green Oaks

Green Oaks Term students live in Schurr Hall

Students participate in art, natural history, and anthropology/sociology courses titled the Natural Imagination, A Natural History of Green Oaks, and Deep Maps of Place, respectively. These courses give students the opportunity to find the connections between disciplines in order to create a deeper understanding of our world.

The Green Oaks Term of 2012 started on March 20th to what we would call an absolutely beautiful spring. Warm weather arrived early this year, making it a rather unusual beginning for our program that usually starts off with a little cold and rainy weather. But we have welcomed the sun gladly and have a rather exciting-looking term ahead of us. We’ve already seen many of the wildflowers come and go, but we still have Jack coming out of his pulpit to look forward to.

Between classes, projects, and cooking and cleaning, the 12 students, 3 professors, and 2 post-bacs will be taking off on some inspiring and informative field trips. We’ll be visiting eco-villages, habitat restorations, and making it up to Wisconsin for a week to explore.

Check back for adventure updates.

Tagged , , , , | Comments Off