Established by a Faculty Initiative Grant requested by Professor Steve Thiesfeldt in 2006, Luther Interpretive Trail & Environmental Site (LITES) is a seven-acre plot adjacent to Flandrau State Park that has been patiently developed to serve as an outdoor classroom for environmental science students.
Ongoing improvement of the site includes removing invasive species, reestablishing native prairie flora, creating an interpretive trail with markers noting points of natural interest, building a pavilion/shelter with benches for classes, and beginning the collection of data: vegetation, animal life, soil conditions, temperature and moisture, and so on. MLC Grounds Supervisor Tim Rambow oversees all physical improvements to the property. Professor Thiesfeldt envisions that every MLC student will visit LITES at least once during a required science course. Science education majors might use the site in many different ways. Visitors from elementary and high schools could also participate in outdoor activities on the site.
“Ultimately,” he says, “the project will emphasize the wise stewardship of resources entrusted to us by our gracious God. Students will enhance their knowledge of the natural world and learn to appreciate the delicate balance required to sustain life on this planet.”
Professor Dan Fenske has already utilized LITES with his biology students to do tree, bird call, and animal-track
identification. He also plans to do a study of the invertebrates in the pond. “And no,” he adds, “there have been no Bigfoot sightings so far.”
This feature was originally published in the MLC InFocus, Fall 2018 issue.