Friday, February 9, 2018
Creation becomes education: a look at wildlife at Messiah College
Molly Martin ‘19
Fliehler's photograph of a Carolina Wren
College offers a platform to follow your passions; an amalgamation of educational pursuits and discoveries. It is a combination of God’s creation and the knowledge man has been given. Exploring the expanse of forest at Messiah College, environmental science major Daniel Fliehler ’19 spent hours getting to know the wildlife around campus with a camera in hand. What was he up to?
The assignment was quite simple: educate the public about an environmental issue. For Fliehler, this meant taking photos of Messiah’s beautiful landscape and the wildlife around campus.
“I have spent many hours in the forest, hiking and waiting. Many times, I'll hike for three hours and come away without a single exciting image. But when I capture that winning image, it makes all the previous disappointments fade away,” he said.
The outcome? Much more than a series of remarkable photos.
Fliehler adds, “I've grown in appreciating the forest for itself and not feeling a burden to come away with images every time I visit. I've also really grown in my knowledge of the flora and fauna present, both through experience and personal research and through classes like Plant Taxonomy and Ecology.
There are so many living things in the world around us that we aren't aware of or don't know very much about. The collection of photos Fliehler assembled is composed of less than 10 percent of the birds in the surrounding forests. However, each image included showcases an organism that Fliehler learned about, such as the Carolina Wren pictured above at the very top.
Through his images, Fliehler also was able to remind the community not to underestimate the value this forest has. It is not only a beautiful part of creation, but also a formal and informal educational tool for developing an understanding of place. According to Fliehler, this forest is an opportunity to allow every Messiah student to discover a new appreciation of their world or, in some cases, maybe even a brand new one. It is an indispensable tool for training students to live—like the College’s mission statement says—“lives of service, leadership and reconciliation” by lighting the fire to protect the life we see around us, pronounced “good” by God, from the devastation caused by those He charged with protecting it.