(Click HERE for a short video of the ribbon cutting ceremony and demonstration.)
Lincoln Land Community College cut the ribbon today on a new structure that will house the college’s bird banding research program. In cooperation with the Lincoln Land Association of Bird Banders, LLCC biology students participate in the capture, banding and release of birds, recording information which is added to a massive data pool on bird migration patterns.
The 36’ by 24’ building with a porch and overhang was built by LLCC construction trades students, a program funded through the Illinois Department of Transportation.
Cutting the ribbon were LLCC Trustee and Board Secretary Dennis Shackelford, LLCC Biology Professor Tony Rothering, Lincoln Land Association of Bird Banders (LLABB) President Vern Kleen, and LLCC bird banding student Lizzie Roehrs.
Professor Rothering and Mr. Kleen began the program in fall of 2012 on the northeast edge of the LLCC campus and to date, approximately 11,000 birds representing 113 species have been banded. LLABB members, school groups and organizations also participate in banding activities. Until the new structure was built, all bird banding took place outside and was cancelled during inclement weather. Banders can now do research inside when needed during the fall and spring banding seasons.
Speaking at the ribbon cutting, Rothering thanked the LLCC Board of Trustees, college administrators, LLABB and the construction trades program for support on the project. He noted the significance of the collected data on international weather and climate change research.
“The LLCC bird banding station provides students with a practical scientific experience outside of the classroom,” said Rothering. “Our hands-on approach allows students to appreciate the biological importance of studying bird population and migration patterns and how they relate to the greater ecological world.”
LLCC is the only community college in Illinois with a bird banding research project on site. Rothering noted that the partnership between academic and workforce programs at the college provides students in both programs with a hands-on, real-world learning experience. Construction trades students, who have previously built structures at the Illinois Governor’s Mansion, Southwind Park and elsewhere on the LLCC campus, were involved in all phases of constructing the bird banding station. Special thanks were extended to several local unions: Operating Engineers Local Union #965, which assisted in preparing the site for the build, and the Operative Plasters and Cement Masons Local #18, which helped in pouring the building foundation. Also assisting were the LLCC facilities and athletics departments. The back half of the structure is being used for athletic equipment storage.
Kleen praised the new structure. “There are no other long-term banding stations on any other college campus here in Illinois. And, few stations anywhere have such a first class facility from which to work – those that do are usually affiliated with nature centers. Most stations operate out of temporary lean-to’s, tents, old farm buildings or even from someone’s utility vehicle. Until last fall our ‘operating headquarters’ was this picnic table.”
He added, “The purposes of this banding station are to use bird banding as a tool to: 1) document, quantify and monitor bird populations that permanently live in or visit these habitats during the spring and fall migratory seasons, 2) compare seasonal results to those of past years and to similar projects or studies at other Illinois or national sites; 3) publish project results; and 4) provide educational opportunities for students, staff and others interested in learning more about birds and their environments.”
Ms. Roehrs, a communication major, told the crowd gathered at the ribbon cutting ceremony about her passion for bird banding. “I stumbled across bird banding when I took Biology 101 with Professor Rothering. I found my niche in biological field studies.After completing my required hours, I kept coming back.
“I remember Vern turning to me one day and asking ‘so you like this stuff, huh?’ and, you know, how could I not? I get to enjoy being outdoors and learning all sorts of new and exciting things about the world around me. Lincoln Land has given me opportunities I couldn’t have even dreamed of at other schools. Working at this bird banding station is truly amazing.”
More information on LLCC’s bird banding program is available from Professor Rothering at firstname.lastname@example.org or 217.786.4933.