I approached Patrick Krantz, environmental professor at Westminster College, as he climbed out of his car, having just parked in front of the Bio Trail’s Field Station.
It was a beautiful, yet mercilessly hot walk there, especially for someone in dark jeans and already late to the interview they had planned themselves.
Regardless, Dr. Krantz kindly greeted me, and we enjoyed a drink of water inside the station before we began the interview. The water came in reusable, regular cups, rather than paper or Styrofoam. This cut down on the amount of waste accumulated at the Field Station, no doubt.
Along with the practical cups, I noticed other efforts to help the environment around the station. Recently built birdhouses lined a counter by the back window, plants grew in labeled boxes under sunlight, and education on the flora and fauna of Pennsylvania was strewn throughout the building.
And this was only the beginning. After learning about the importance of picking up trash from Dr. Krantz during our interview, we descended into the dimly lit garage underneath the station. We hopped into one of the utility vehicles, and went for a bumpy ride around the Bio Trail.
Our first stop was the new bird-blind, placed right across from a small, boggy area of the trail. A wooden structure perfect for observing wildlife without startling them. They even built around the two large trees already grounded in the area, so that the trees could continue to reside there.
Another stop, one that really spoke volumes, was what looked like any old clearing. That is, unless you looked closely. Trash of all shapes and sizes hid beneath bushes, or halfway in the ground. Other pieces were scattered in the open.
This particular clearing used to be the dumping site for the farm family that lived here decades ago, as explained to me by Dr. Krantz. They lived during a time before there were options for waste, such as recycling, so families would often just pick a spot to leave their trash.
The family is long gone, but loads of the garbage stayed. Especially glasses and metals. Dr. Krantz, with some help, has slowly but surely been cleaning the area. His goal is to one day make it a nice, park-like area. And thanks to his diligence, it almost looks the part, with healthy grasses and plants now thriving there. But there is still plenty of litter waiting to be picked up; a mess that was bound to remain there for years to come, if not for people taking action.
It was during this eye-opening experience that I realized all of the hard work the Bio Trail staff puts out there, just for the sake of nature. Their main job simply involves maintaining the trails and the station, but they go above and beyond this expectation. They are always hard at work with a sustainable project, one of the many that they organize. Or they simply do their part when they collect a piece of trash, just as Dr. Krantz emphasized the importance of.
In recent news, I feel that we have been focusing a lot on individual projects of the Bio Trail. My tour with Patrick Krantz helped me to see it as a whole, and to bring it all together. It showed that the people behind the Field Station do so much more than just mow down weeds, or monitor weather patterns. They have done, and will continue to do, as much as they can for the welfare of the environment.