Each summer Calvin students apply and are hired for specific research positions that advance our research and restoration work. These students have proven to be invaluable to our work as researchers, hard workers, educators, and volunteer site leaders throughout the year.

2022 Summer Projects

Urban Habitat Restoration with Green Team High School Students

These students will mentor, help supervise, and work alongside the Plaster Creek Stewards Summer Green Team, a program that employs high school students to gain experience learning how to implement and maintain green-infrastructure projects. Responsibilities will include greenhouse and nursery management, off campus project installations, seed collecting, and planning and guiding the high school student activities. These positions will afford opportunities for coordinating efforts and promoting mutual understanding between high schoolers from urban Grand Rapids (Plaster Creek Green Team). Besides helping to educate high school students, this work will also provide opportunities for the Calvin mentor to cultivate cross-cultural relationships and practice their Spanish (although being a Spanish speaker is not a requirement).

Ecological Restoration in the Plaster Creek Watershed

These students will work closely with Ms. Deanna Geelhoed and Professor David Warners in the preparation and installation of a variety of restoration projects from small residential curb-cut rain gardens to a large-scale floodplain restoration. Additionally, these students will assist in maintaining areas that were restored in years past, and will become involved in all aspects of plant propagation including seed collection, germination, transplanting, and out-planting. This work will provide students with practical, hands-on opportunities to learn about low-impact development and green infrastructure best management practices.

Monitoring Native Trees to Control Invasive Species and Improve Water Quality

The student who will be filling this position will be focused on monitoring native trees in the Plaster Creek Watershed that have been planted to improve water quality and discourage the invasive Reed canary grass. The student will be working closely with Dr. Warners and Ms. Deanna Geelhoed to assess how effective a 2 year old native tree planting has been. This student will learn about native tree identification and nursery care. An important task of this project will be adding to a baseline dataset that will be used in future years to monitor the success of this project. Part of this dataset will be to quantify the transpiration rates of different trees to determine which trees are best at moving stormwater from the soil into the air. Interested students will need to be willing to work outdoors in all kinds of weather and willing to invest in challenging physical labor.

Plant Responses to Climate Change at Flat Iron Lake Preserve

This project will take place at Calvin's Flat Iron Lake Preserve where 2 students will live and act as summer caretakers. Dr. Warners' project is an ongoing flower phenology study, investigating the timing of flowering period for a variety of native prairie plants. Through this long-term field study our objective is to document the variety of responses to climate change exhibited by the extensive diversity of plants at the Flat Iron Lake Preserve. In addition, this year the student will be collecting data to assess the impact of controlled burning on a restored prairie ecosystem.

Ecological Restoration on Calvin's Campus

"The student who fills this position will work in the greenhouse, nursery and at sites on campus to introduce and maintain native plants and native habitats in campus natural areas. Some of this work will be in coordination with staff from Calvin's Physical Plant Department, with 2022 projects including maintenance of the rain garden east of Spoelhof Cafe and enhancement of the new restored forest area west of Spoelhof Center. Other sites on campus that will be managed include the natural areas adjacent to Van Reken Residence Hall, Dice Museum, DeVries Hall, and Ravenswood Guest House. Students interested in this project will need to be willing to work outdoors in all kinds of weather and willing to invest in challenging physical labor.

Urban Restoration Intern

This position focuses on how to maintain urban green spaces to promote biodiversity and ecosystem services. This student will lead restoration activities that focus on a 5-acre urban wetland (Calvin Avenue Basin), as well as a 5-acre rural floodplain restoration. The main tasks will include invasive species identification and eradication, growing and planting native plants and trees, spraying herbicide when necessary, leading workdays, and working with the Plaster Creek Stewards team to install other green infrastructure projects. Pending funding, it is possible this position could continue part time into the fall term.

Emma Cole Project: Botanical Changes in West Michigan 1901-2021

From 1892 to 1899 Emma J. Cole, a botanist and teacher, traveled around the Grand Rapids area by horse and buggy, collecting and documenting plant diversity of West Michigan. In 1901, she published “Grand Rapids Flora,” a comprehensive record of the the plants growing in local areas. Over the past 6 years Calvin's Emma Cole Project has been creating a modern botanical inventory of the Grand Rapids region and comparing it to the flora documented by Emma Cole 120 years ago. 2022 field work will focus on Little Pine Island Lake and Reeds Lake. Botanical inventory lists will be generated and used to calculate Floristic Quality Indices (FQIs) by site. Community similarity measures will be used to compare current day inventories with those gleaned from Cole's work.

Monitoring Floodplains

"This position will implement a variety of strategies for measuring the changes in stream function of two floodplain restoration projects. The student will work in the creek and in the office. Some tasks include measuring floodshelf and bank dimensions in the field, collecting data throughout the watershed, researching similar projects, compiling data with an existing set, and writing a “success story” detailing the two projects in a report. A portion of this work will also be implementing restoration projects in the field with the Plaster Creek Stewards Team. This position is a crossover with the Engineering department.

Green Infrastructure Parking lot Retrofits for Increased Sustainability

"This student will assist in expanding water quality improvement efforts in urban areas by working with partners to identify ways to capture stormwater from impervious parking lots in commercial locations and then to develop construction plans and design aids for these efforts. An objective of this position is to develop an educational pamphlet that outlines a range of Green Infrastructure options for parking lots from which businesses and organizations can choose. The student will draw from existing materials and tools and participate in conversations with partners and local engineers to create a user-friendly resource customized to local conditions. The pamphlet will be designed for the public and include cost-benefit analysis, a decision tree, information about maintenance needs for the various options, and stormwater credit estimates. Engineering experience preferred, but not required.

Effectiveness of Plants in Urban Detention Pond

This project seeks to isolate the reduction in stormwater runoff due to native plants through evapotranspiration and increased infiltration. Using a wet-detention pond and a weather station, the project will track stormwater runoff into and out of the pond to determine the changing storage capacity and reductions due to plants. Work will be conducted both in the field and in the office. It will be a mix of research, methods development, data collection, hydraulic calculations, Excel, and writing. This position requires engineering experience, preferably someone who has taken ENGR 320.

Student Research Posters and Papers

2020

Plaster Creek Stewards Green Team Initiative

Michael Akpabey, David Martinez Vasquez, Dr. David Warners, Calvin University
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Stormwater Capture via Green Infrastructure in the Plaster Creek Watershed

Brett Barents, Kiara Bromley, Haley Weesies, Deanna Geelhoed, Dr. David Warners, Calvin University
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Trees vs. Reed Canary Grass

Josian Aardema, Moses Jangala, David E. Martinez Vasquez, Dr. David Warners, Calvin University
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Native Plant Transpiration Research in Urban Curb-Cut Rain Gardens with Plaster Creek Stewards and Michigan Sea Grant

Ana Singh, Deanna Geelhoed, Dr. David Warners, Calvin University
View presentation
Watch presentation (1:38:48 - 1:45:34)

Tree Planting to Inhibit Reed Canary Grass Growth and Watershed Education

David Martinez Vasquez, Deanna Geelhoed, Dr. David Warners, Calvin University
View presentation
Watch presentation (1:45:34 - 1:53:54)

2019

Green Team: Ecological Restoration of Plaster Creek

Yeri Kim, Benjamin Steenwyk, Rachel Warners, Dr. David Warners, Dr. Gail Heffner, Calvin University
View presentation PDF

Stormwater Capture via Green Infrastructure in the Plaster Creek Watershed

Kyle Dankert, Ana Singh, Deanna Geelhoed, Dr. David Warners, Calvin University
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Podophyllum peltatum: Relationship of Colony Size and Age

Emily Holst, Heidi Keswick, Dr. David Warners, Calvin University
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2017

Green Team-Urban Ecological Restoration

Aracely Eikenberry, Stephanie Praamsma, Dr. Gail Heffner, and Dr. David Warners, Calvin College
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Stormwater Capture via Green Infrastructure in the Plaster Creek Watershed

Skyler Fish, Ben Johnson, Deanna Geelhoed, Dr. Dave Warners, Calvin College
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Plant Performance in Curb Cut Rain Gardens

Max DeYoung, Gregory Manni, Dr. Dave Warners, Calvin College
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2016

Curb-Cut Rain Garden Research

Patrick Jonker, and Dr. Dave Warners, Calvin College
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The Green Team and the Restoration of Plaster Creek

Leira Lew, Micah Warners, Dr. Gail Heffner, and Dr. David Warners, Calvin College
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Runoff Volume Reduction from SubBasins in Plaster Creek Watershed, Kent County, MI

Professor Julie Wildschut, Engineering; Dena De Kryger, Biology
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Mapping Mayapple Growth in Restored Forest

Jonathan Walt, Stephanie Praamsma, Tanner Vincent, Dr. Dave Warners, Calvin College
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2015

The Green Team and the Restoration of Plaster Creek

Deanna Geelhoed and Micah Warners, Calvin College
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Installation of Rain Gardens in the Alger Heights Community

Wesley Dykstra, Dena De Kryger, Mike Ryskamp, and Dr. Dave Warners, Calvin College
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Hydrologic Modeling of the Effects of Stormwater Runoff in Plaster Creek Watershed

Ryan DeGroot, Professor Julie Wildschut and Professor Robert Hoeksema, Calvin College
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2014

Assessing a Reconciliation Ecology Approach to Suburban Landscaping: Biodiversity on a College Campus

Christopher Bouma, Emily Huizenga, and David Warners, Calvin College
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