Marker Wadden – by Patti

Insect habitat on Marker Wadden

Our first full day in the Netherlands had an exciting start as we ran to the train station, arriving at the platform almost exactly as our train entered the station. Two trains and a bus later had us in Lelystad, looking out at the Marker Wadden. The town was pretty with interesting architecture and sculptures overlooking the lake. It was hard to believe that the whole area was under water not that long ago. We then got on the ferry and met the 3 scientists who would be introducing us to Marker Wadden. Walking on the island, it was hard to imagine that it was human-made. There was a variety of wildlife present, from frogs to the 180 species of birds. While walking, we talked about the variety of things done to maintain and monitor the island. Various researchers monitor almost every aspect of the island through a variety of ways including monitors in the water to determine nutrient levels, tents to take bug samples, and observation towers to view the birds and other species.

Midge monitoring tent on Marker Wadden.

They maintain the island by introducing new sediment to areas sinking into the lake, planting grasses and other vegetation to prevent eroding, and promoting swamp growth by putting tape and other barriers to prevent geese grazing.

Going into today, I was instructed to view this experience through a social lens. While on the island, the sense of community was very prevalent. People who came appreciated the natural world and everyone was extremely respectful to nature and to each other. While talking to Ben Viveen, one of the engineers who was responsible for building Marker Wadden, he talked about how the island gets 20,000 visitors every year and how people even went out there to vote in elections, showcasing how these islands and the wildlife on them is so important to the people who live there. All and all, it was an amazing first day and I am excited to head to Germany tomorrow morning to start the service project.

Final preparations! – by Kris

May 28, 2024

As I type this, most everyone from NR2990 is likely packed or getting packed to travel to the Netherlands in the coming days. This year’s course, called Water Management and Sustainability in the Netherlands also includes a visit to Germany where we will learn about devastating floods that occurred in summer 2021 and engage in service projects to attempt to assist the affected communities in their continued recovery. Traveling primarily by bicycle, we will also travel on planes, trains, busses, ferries, and in vans. We will be privileged to meet with and learn from Dutch and German water management and sustainability professionals as we make our way from community to community.

Each day, students in the course will consider the topic of the day from one of three sustainability perspectives: environmental, economic, and social. We will have daily debriefs following our site visits to consider what everyone learned and compare and contrast among locations – from the US to Germany to the Netherlands.