UGA awarded 2014 Ford College Community Challenge Grant for prescribed grazing

Chew Crew Gaby Pierre 2014-h.photo
Gaby Pierre

Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia’s College of Environment and Design, in partnership with the College of Engineering and the Office of Sustainability, will use a grant from the Ford Motor Company Fund to continue a two-year effort to remove invasive vegetation using prescribed grazing with the help of one of humankind’s oldest species of domesticated livestock—goats.

UGA’s “Grazing Our Way Back to Community Sustainability” project was one of the 10 selected for implementation. This student-led community-building project corresponds with the mission of the Ford College Community Challenge of “Building Sustainable Communities.”

The grant will support three sustainable community projects. First, it will allow the continuation of prescribed grazing research using goats to reclaim an overgrown and highly impaired stream on campus called Tanyard Creek. Second, a new prescribed grazing effort will be launched in Driftmier Woods—adjacent to the Driftmier Engineering Center—to begin restoring the old-growth forest.

Finally, the grant will allow the creation of a junior herders program at Barrow Elementary School to teach students the importance of reclaiming the community’s landscapes. As junior herders, the students will interact with UGA students and professors while learning about ecology, hydrology and the biology and care of domesticated animals. Both the Tanyard Creek and Driftmier Woods locations will serve as outdoor classrooms.

Ansley McKinney, president of the Society for Conservation Biology, will serve as the student leader for these projects with assistance from UGA faculty and staff, including Eric MacDonald, an associate professor in the College of Environment and Design; John Schramski, an associate professor in the College of Engineering; Elizabeth King, an assistant professor in the Odum School of Ecology and the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, and professionals in the Office of Sustainability.

“I love that interest in this project has spread far and wide throughout the UGA campus and Athens,” McKinney said. “It really underlines the necessity to take an interdisciplinary approach to creating a community that embraces sustainability.”

UGA student organizations—including the Georgia Chapter of the Society for Conservation Biology, the Society of Environmental Engineers, U.S. Green Building Council Students and Volunteer UGA—have committed their knowledge and service to assist in the project.

So far, the Tanyard Creek Chew Crew has engaged more than 500 volunteers who have donated nearly 1,200 hours. The Ford College Community Challenge grant-in the amount of $25,000-will assist in expanding these efforts and engaging additional volunteers. Project implementation will continue until spring 2015.

For more information on the Ford College Community Challenge, see https://www.fordscholars.org/contests/ford-c3. For project details and to get involved, contact Michael McCord, the Office of Sustainability watersheds intern, at mjmcord@uga.edu or 706-542-1301. Follow the effort online at www.facebook.com/tanyardcreekchewcrew or www.ced.uga.edu/pso/outreach-programs.