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Applying Class Skills over Co-op: Richard Hauck ’17 at Glen Helen Nature Preserve

I am currently working as an assistant land manager at the Glen Helen Nature Preserve. The Glen is a 1,070-acre expanse of land that was donated to Antioch College by Hugh Taylor Birch. Dedicated to the preservation of nature, the Glen was named after Mr. Birch’s daughter, Helen Birch Bartlett, who tragically passed away in her early 40s. Glen Helen has had different land-use strategies over the years and still had some open farmed fields in the 1950s. At one point it was even a resort that included a handful of small hotels. From this historical point of view, the Glen can be described as a natural area that has experienced some significant human disturbances over the decades. What I do is help to restore and maintain a balanced ecosystem within it.

I have used many skills that I have learned in classes, such as ecology, to observe and read the landscape of the Glen. As an example, there are a lot of standing, dead Osage orange trees. The reason why a nonnative tree like the Osage is in the Glen is that Osage was used as a fence-making tree for cattle due to its thorny nature. Osage is also an early field successional tree so, once the old ag fields in the Glen were left to be reclaimed by the forest, the Osage came in and grew well. Over time, other trees that are later successional trees, like maple, came in, and because they are faster growing they choked the Osage of resources, mainly light, and outcompete them.

I technically work under the Glen Helen Ecology Institute that was created sometime in the mid-1900s to keep the US68 from being built directly in the Glen. George Bieri is my direct supervisor, along with Ben Silliman who is the more permanent assistant land manager. I have been doing a lot of physical labor, including carrying long posts through the Glen for signposts or rail posts to keep people out, blocking closed trails with branches and thorns, peeling Osage posts with a drawknife, carrying all the equipment needed to get the job we are working on completed, helping to drop trees for trail closure or protecting important tree species, and clearing invasive Amur honeysuckle.

My role is to help the land managers with whatever they need help with. My work creates a more dynamic ecosystem and makes the Glen a better place for visitors. I do like helping out and getting the job done. What I have learned thus far is that this job must take into consideration later successional stages of the forest and help make that older forest stage better. The work that I am doing now will greatly affect what happens to the ecosystem of the Glen in the future and I am greatly honored to have such an essential role in achieving the goal of the nature preserve. If I could work in an area of less human impact managing forest I probably would do it, having the job experience I have now. I really enjoy this kind of work. I do think it could be made more enjoyable but that all depends on coworkers and the energy that is brought to the job.

The skillset required for this job is endurance, determination, a sense of the big picture, teamwork skills, the capability to use manual and power tools, the ability to walk a long distance every day and lift at least 50 pounds, flexibility, and patience. This job is definitely not for the faint of heart, people who cannot stand the heat, or people who dislike being outside in a forest all day. I know now that this job can be a pain and takes a lot out of me. I have also come to the conclusion that working outside and moving around is so much more rewarding and healthy than sitting in front of a computer all day. I also know now that there is so much more than the north Glen to explore; the south Glen is a great spot and not many people go there.

What is next for me is to go on co-op again in the fall to Ecuador. What’s next for Glen Helen is to keep doing what it does best by protecting the natural environment and educating the general public about the Glen and how important a natural ecosystem is. It’s important that the community is better educated on the purpose of the Glen and how they can help to improve the natural state of the world. So many people are completely oblivious about the importance of forests and the benefits they provide to the health of an ecosystem and planet. Without transpiration and the cycle of an ecosystem, the Glen, and the world for that matter, would not function properly.

What I envision next for the Glen is to get to a state of old-growth forest, as close to pristine as the eastern deciduous forests were before the white settlers came through and chopped them all down. This is part of the big picture mentality that is necessary to work here because the Glen will not reach a dynamic ecosystem level for at least another 100-200 years and the natural predators come back. I imagine all the invasive species will be eradicated and kept out. I also imagine the way in which the Glen deals with the public will change; it will become more of a preserve and the health of the forest will surpass the number of human visitors in importance.  The Glen has a long way to go but, with more passionate people such as my co-workers and me, it will one day reach these lofty goals.

I hope the rest of my co-op goes well and I look forward to continuing the progress needed for a more dynamic ecosystem.

Photo credit: Vincent Nobel

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<p> </p> <p>Hello to whoever is reading this.</p> <p>My name is Richard Hauck. I come from many places but I have lived most of my life in Phoenix Arizona. I am in the class of 2017 at Antioch College.</p> <p>I was one of the few in my class who started their Antioch experience on co-op making us students at Antioch before the rest of our class. I started my first co-op experience at the Bergefurd’s Farm Market in Wilmington, OH in the summer of 2013. There I lived and worked on the farm with the family and had a great introduction to Ohio and the life of a farmer. There I learned how great farm fresh food was and how to better connect with the Earth through a regimen of hard work and spending most of my time among the sun and plants. After my co-op experience I was excited to start school at Antioch but soon learned how hard life and school at Antioch is. Unfortunately I was alienated from my class and others at Antioch my first academic quarter because of the judgmental nature of other Antioch students, a complete lack of understanding, and an unwillingness to talk to me. Since then I have learned that a lot of people at Antioch are hypocritical and claim to be open minded but in reality don’t embrace all forms of diversity and lack tolerance.</p> <p>After my first two rough academic quarters while most of my class was going on their first co-op I set off for my second co-op experience in Vermont the spring of 2014. I was working installing solar systems with Soveren Solar living in a one bedroom apartment with three other men. To say the least it was completely terrible because of the living situation. Vermont was beautiful in the spring and I’m glad I had the experience, but I never want to do something like that again.</p> <p>My third co-op experience was in Costa Mesa, California during the winter of 2015. Before I left for Ohio I thought I was paying for an apartment in the area close to where I would be working but it turned out to be a scam and I lost a lot of money, so some advice for future Antioch students and their co-ops, be careful. Since Phoenix is only 5 hours away from southern California over break I drove to check out a place renting a room out of a house living with a couple in their 50s-60s and it was a fit. Although it was nice to be out of Ohio and in southern California for the winter my job and living situation was definitely not the best. I was working at Reflections Recovery Rehab Center doing the graveyard shifts which was completely unhealthy and challenging. The people running the rehab center didn’t seem to care to much about their clients and had a higher focus on the money they could get from them. They also disrespected their employees including myself many times and didn’t know how to communicate properly. The couple I was living with was okay at first but eventually they started blaming me for things that I had not done and wouldn’t listen. Both my employer and my housemates had some major problems with the way they perceived the world. Anyway it was an experience and I remember more of the good than the bad, for example I made a good friend who was my supervisor and really cool guy there and went surfing for the first time over that co-op with him.</p> <p>In between my third and fourth co-op I self designed my major which was a huge accomplishment that I am very proud of. My major is Ecology and the Human Environment.</p> <p>My last co-op in the fall of 2015 I decided to stay in Yellow Springs, mainly because of my wonderful girlfriend Julia who is in the class of 2018. I landed a job with the Glen Helen working as the trailside museum curator and office assistant. I worked weekends at the trailside and helped out in the office on weekdays with two days off scattered in-between. There I learned a lot about how the Glen operates and how many people don’t understand that the Glen is a Nature Preserve not a park. I also learned that the general American public is not that great to work with and there is a lot of ignorance even in Yellow Springs. By the end of that co-op I was extremely happy to be going to classes full time again and only working one day at the trailside.</p> <p>My fifth co-op that I am doing right now is also with the Glen, but I am doing land management for the Glen. My job title is assistant land manager to my supervisor that is a great guide George Bieri. This co-op and my first co-op have been the best co-op experiences I have had so far. I love working in the forest and helping the Glen to be restored to a more natural state. I am learning a lot more about the natural environment of the Glen and how much humans have screwed up the ecology of the region.</p> <p>Next quarter I will be leaving Yellow Springs to do my sixth co-op in Otavalo, Ecuador. I will be the first Antioch student to be working with the Tandana Foundation and I am completely excited. I am going to Ecuador to complete the 3 year track language program and do my immersion capstone project. There I will be working in school gardens and tree nurseries and it will be completely amazing because I love to work with plants. My girlfriend Julia has also applied to work with the Tandana Foundation working in their clinics so hopefully we will be going to Ecuador together.</p> <p>Although my Antioch experience has been rough, challenging, and a struggle I am glad to remember and learn from the experiences that I have had. Through my time here I have seen many changes and have been a key part in helping Antioch receive its accreditation. I have also started an Independent Group: Car Club on campus that has a member base of 14 community members. Going to Antioch is a privilege that I am grateful to be a part of.  </p> <p>After graduating and leaving Antioch I plan to start my own farm in Sonoma, California. I want to build my farm to be completely sustainable and plan to support myself and a future family from the sacred Earth. Marijuana will be my cash crop but it will not be the only crop I will grow. Eventually if I make a lot of money doing what I plan to do I want to buy large tracts of regions of the Earth with a highly important ecological significance and preserve it by keeping humans out. Humans have screwed up the planet and continue to do so. We need to think of the future of our planet and start living sustainably or the state of the Earth will get worse and humanity will perish. </p>

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