Learning continues at the ‘M’

October 9, 2013

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. – Standing almost 250 feet tall and more than 200 feet wide, the big “M” was created by University of Wisconsin-Platteville engineering students in 1936. It was a mining school at the time, thus the letter “M.” The stones were whitewashed every year by UW-Platteville students. In the many years since, students and community members alike have taken great pride in Platteville being the home of the world’s largest “M.”

There are various trails and rocks to climb throughout the land atop and behind the “M.” Owned by UW-Platteville, this land was the site of a summer-long PACCE project by Nicole Hays, a reclamation, environment and conservation major.

Hays’ project was a continuation of a PACCE project that was initiated in the spring of 2013. The Reclamation Project Management course developed a broad-scale reclamation plan and initiated establishment of restoration test plots for the Platte Mound. Hays completed the establishment of the restoration test plots and determined the costs for various methods. Her work resulted in estimating costs for the establishment of various plants including a mesic prairie, oak savanna and a short grass “goat” prairie. This data will be used to guide long-term restoration planning for the Platte Mound.

“Instead of thinking of the Platte Mound as a landmark visitor site, or a large-scale 20-year costly restoration project or simply a degraded woodlot, it actually provides the perfect setting for teaching students about the issues we will face in real life settings following graduation,” said Hays.

Dr. Chris Baxter, assistant professor of soil and crop science, supervised Hays’ independent study project. “Reclamation or restoration plans should provide a client varying options in terms of cost and scope,” he said. “Intended land use and one’s economic situation will help to guide a client’s decision on restoring or reclaiming land. Nicole’s project provided her with the unique opportunity to apply reclamation/restoration techniques to a real-world setting.”

Both the UW-Platteville facilities management and UW-Platteville’s greenhouse were involved in planning and implementing the project. UW-Platteville Greenhouse Manager and PACCE Engagement Specialist Dawn Lee assisted in raising the plants needed for the project. The results will help to guide the development of long-term restoration plans for the Platte Mound.

“Each PACCE project connects a committed faculty partner and UW-Platteville student(s) with a community partner who has a specific need. In this case, there was a specific need for research at Platte Mound that required a unique set of skills and knowledge,” said Dr. Kevin Bernhardt, PACCE director.

PACCE is a transformative initiative for the campus-wide coordination, integration and leadership of community-based scholarship of engagement on the UW-Platteville campus. PACCE is a funding source for scholarship of engagement projects and funds hundreds of projects every year. For more information about PACCE, visit uwplatt.edu/pacce. To learn more about this project, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xn0mnV2fPsc#t=264.

Contact: Kathy Neumeister, senior marketing specialist, PACCE, (608) 342-1688, neumeisterk@uwplatt.edu

Formatted by: Alison Parkins, UW-Platteville University Information and Communications, (608) 342-1526, parkinsal@uwplatt.edu


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