ARCC's participation in the project wrapped up in late- April as each student prepared to present their findings on nesting and observed raptors and contribute to the established knowledge base of raptor species within the park.
"It is excellent experience in field work," Graber notes. "It's a taste of what it could be like with a $200,000 grant from a research university."
Each student committed 10-15 hours of service (field work or literature research) and numerous additional hours to accomplish all the associated assignments. The student groups (four to five students per group) were required to complete entrance and exit surveys as well as a project proposal, an outline, a paper and finally the presentation of their findings. Here Graber was slightly disappointed that the project was not longer.
"We hypothesized that some raptors would actually increase with increased human population," Graber says. "Raptors, like Cooper Hawks would increase in population because they eat songbirds. The more humans use bird feeders, the more songbirds are in their yards and the more Cooper hawks. The project was not long enough to support our hypothesis."
While Graber and Hammre weren't able to prove their hypothesis, they did get to learn about raptor behavior, the use of natural resources and how environmental changes effect behavior changes.
"Even if we didn't come to an indisputable conclusion, we still learned," Hammre says. "No one can ever say 'Well, this is how it is.' There's always potential for new facts through more research."
While learning how to directly apply the scientific method within a relevant setting is vital to students, Braido stressed community element was equally important.
"A central mission of a community college is to be an intricate leader and support institution for the community in which it serves," Braido says. "Fostering relationships with and providing service to local organizations, such as the Three Rivers Park District, through their annual raptor survey, strengthens the role of Anoka-Ramsey Community College students within the community and strengthens the community as a whole."
For more information about the excellent academic programs offered at Anoka-Ramsey Community College and other community relevant programs, visit www.AnokaRamsey.edu or call 763-433-1100.