Wildlife and Conservation club plan volunteer day at Lost River Cave

Anne Newton volunteers at Lost River Cave’s Earth Week on Sept. 20, 2020. Volunteers removed invasive plants such as the Virginia Creeper so the area is more welcoming to native species and wildlife. The next VIP Initiative will be held on Feb. 20, 2021 and is open to anyone who is interested.

Despite issues surrounding events and traveling caused by COVID-19, leaders of the WKU Wildlife and Conservation club are confident they can still make a positive impact and are preparing for their upcoming project at Lost River Cave.

Sophie Austin, the president of the club and Geography and Environmental Studies major, has a lot planned for this upcoming year. She is a junior at WKU and this will be her first semester as president. 

“The club is important because it gives students a space to talk about conservation, learn new things, and make an impact on the local community,” Austin said. “The things we learn today about conservation will provide us with ideas and values that can be incorporated into our personal and professional lives to make a positive impact.”

Professor Jarrett Johnson has been the faculty sponsor of the club since 2017. In addition his academic research ties into the club’s mission of conservation.

 “My research program at WKU is centered on answering questions pertaining to conservation of amphibians,” Johnson stated in an email.

Johnson said the goal of the club is to “organize volunteer activities among like-minded students, and these activities typically support local conservation efforts.” 

Johnson said COVID-19 has impacted the club’s activities causing them to cut them back. 

“But we have a good group of motivated students, and I anticipate the club will continue to support conservation initiatives in our region in the future,” Johnson stated. 

The club’s first event will be on Saturday, Feb. 20. They will volunteer at Lost River Cave with the invasive species initiative. During this time, the volunteers will be removing exotic and invasive plants from nature around Lost River Cave.

“The removal of these species is important to the preservation of the land and wildlife at the park,” Austin said.

This event is hosted by Lost River Cave every Saturday in March till November from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Anyone is welcomed and encouraged to volunteer during this time. 

“The VIP Initiative is a program that enlists our community to help preserve the woodland, wetlands, and wildlife of Lost River Cave and Valley by removing invasive and exotic plants,” Austin said.

You can find more here about the Volunteer Invasive Plant (VIP) Initiative

Though the club’s schedule is not finalized yet, they plan to host hikes at Shanty Hollow and Mammoth Cave and bring in potential guest speakers from professors in the Biology Department and people who work in the field of Conservation.

For more information and/or interest in the Wildlife and Conservation club you can contact Sophie Austin and visit their Instagram @wku_wcc.

Reporter Michael Crimmins can be reached at [email protected].