Ponds are usually coated in a slime that repels people, but underneath that layer of green lives an organism that is both environmentally beneficial and fascinating.
Chris Pellecchia and Mandy Pearson, JSU Biology graduate students and naturalists, along with Dr. George Cline, a biology professor known fondly as Dr. Frogs, aim to help others see beyond the green of the top layers in ponds to the frogs beneath.
This Saturday at 6 p.m. Pellecchia and Pearson will be leading the Early Spring Frog Pond Adventure beginning at 6 p.m. at the JSU Frog Pond in White Plains, depending on weather conditions.
Located on two acres of seasonal wetland, the JSU Frog Pond is actually a wildlife preserve and observation area that is visited by frogs, owls, bats, herons, and song birds depending on the season.
Wetlands, as a whole, provide a home to more than one third of all endangered plant and animal species, not to mention that wetlands themselves are endangered.
The voices of frogs that will hopefully be heard at the pond will be the first of many this spring and according to Dr. Renee Morrison, Director of the JSU Field Schools, include Spring Peepers, leopard frogs, chorus frogs, and bull frogs.
Dr. Cline says, “My students and I will be collecting frogs for people to see and hear and touch. We’ll also be looking for whatever organisms we can catch.”
Dr. Cline, Pellecchia, and Pearson will help those that attend identify the different songs of the frogs and what they mean to the species it originates from.
Most will be able to get hands-on experience holding the slippery amphibians and determining the species that can be found at the JSU frog pond.
Depending on the life cycle of the frogs that can be found in the wetlands at the Frog Pond, participants have often been able to hold a mass of frog eggs in their hands while they hatch.
According to Dr. Morrison, people have traveled from as far away as Texas and Florida to attend these unique learning opportunities, often gaining the knowledge to care for their local wetlands and ponds in the process.
Hosted by JSU Field Schools partnered with the US Forest Service and Choccolocco Creek Watershed Alliance, over three thousand have participated in over 45 pond programs in the past 17 years. Open to all, the program has seen events garner an audience of over 100 people, ranging in age from pre-K to grey headed.
The program is a part of Frog Watch USA, a flagship citizen science program that urges and encourages individuals and families to learn about the wetlands in their communities and help conserve amphibians by reporting the frogs and toads that live in the area.
For over ten years, Frog Watch USA has had volunteers enter their information into a database that helps develop practical strategies to help in the conservation of the amphibian species.
The Frog Pond Adventure series begins this Saturday, March 1st, at the JSU Frog Pond in White Plains at 6 p.m. and requires a $3 admission fee.
Be sure to bring a flash light, audio recorder, camera, and hip boots (if you want to wade into the pond).
For more information and directions to the frog pond, visit www.jsu.edu/epic/frog2