By Keely Savoie
Kate Ballantine, an assistant professor of environmental studies, has been given the Environmental Ground-Breaker award from Clean Water Action, a national environmental group. She was recognized for her work on restoring a river and its surrounding wetlands on the Mount Holyoke College campus.
It all started four years ago with an idea: to teach restoration ecology by using a river on the campus as a living classroom.
Now, after countless hours of research, experiments, plans, and conversations—not to mention the muddy, sweaty work of implementation—the site has been regarded to reduce erosion and improve water filtration. Invasive species have been routed out and replaced with native flora. And a boardwalk has been built, providing an inviting space for students, faculty, staff, and the greater community to enjoy and experience firsthand a site that has been restored to its ecological balance.
“This is what the Environmental Ground-Breaker recognition was about,” said Sarah Moffett, a community organizer at Clean Water Action. “We wanted to call attention to work that is both ground-breaking in the sense that it is cutting-edge, and also in the literal sense that it is hands-on work that has literally changed our environment.”
The restoration work—dubbed “Project Stream”—was funded in part by a grant from Clean Water Action. It is a key part of Mount Holyoke’s commitment to the future of its campus and to the planet itself.
“Through this award we wanted to recognize Kate Ballantine and her students, and uplift and amplify the work that they have done to improve the overall health of the Mount Holyoke campus lakes system,” said Moffett.
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