Award-winning student news since 1978

The Brookhaven Courier

Award-winning student news since 1978

The Brookhaven Courier

Award-winning student news since 1978

The Brookhaven Courier

Professor logs flora, fauna

By Ludmila Mitula

Senior Staff Photographer

Photo by Ludmila Mitula
Photo by Ludmila Mitula

His steps are quick. But from time to time, he stops suddenly, quickly prepares his Samsung Galaxy S4 and snaps a photo. Photos of butterflies, hornets, dragonflies and wasps fill his phone’s SD card during his frequent walks on the Brookhaven College jogging trail, and he steps off the path and into the thicket whenever nature captures his focus.

Jerry Bartz, a senior coordinator for Brookhaven’s Geographic
Information Systems learning lab, said he loves nature and science, but
has recently discovered a new love – cellphone photography.

He began taking family photographs with a Brownie box camera at the
age of eight or nine. “I also used a camera with multiple lenses for my
environment field studies,” Bartz said. “But now I take pictures only with
my phone. My cellphone is always with me, always ready and pinned to
my belt.”

Photos by Jerry Bartz | GIS Lab Coordinator

His favorite image is one of a wolf spider encountering a wasp. Bartz
said he was on a jogging trail when the biggest wolf spider he had ever
seen crossed his path. A Carolina wasp landed between him and the spider.
He readied his camera, assuming that the spider would make a meal of the
wasp, but the wasp struck first and dragged the limp spider into the grass.

“I love nature photography,” Bartz said. “I envision that my pictures can
be used during the Brookhaven summer camp as a part of science activities.”

According to, Bartz “holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry
and a master’s degree in geochemistry, both from the University of
Wisconsin- Milwaukee,” and “did three years of postgraduate work at the
University of Texas … as a geology teaching assistant.”

“I have applied these sciences in environmental studies,” Bartz said.
“Thus, I like to describe myself as an environmental geochemist.”

Bartz 5

Bartz said his earliest experience with nature was at the age of five, when
his mother gave him his own garden area. He also said he made frequent
weekend trips to the museum of science in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. “My
love and respect for the environment was reinforced in the Boy Scouts,”
Bartz said. “Camping trips took me into the woods and, like the [Native
American], I learned to enjoy the natural environment. We left our surroundings with little evidence that we were there.”

Times have changed for both the environment and Bartz.
Human activity can have harmful effects on the natural environment, and there is no more balance in the ecosystem, Bartz said. As such, he said he embraces the environmental rights philosophy and social movement regarding concerns for protection and improvement of the health of our planet.

“I would like to have environmental policies based on the scientific method
and not the factually discredited predictions of fear merchants,” Bartz said.

Each person determines what he or she can do to improve the environment,
he added. For some, it may be making an effort to use the sidewalk instead of
cutting across the main campus lawn.

“I have driven a small, fuel-efficient car for most of my life,” Bartz said. “I educate myself on environmental issues … I recycle, and my vegetable waste is returned to a low-water-use home vegetable garden. I also use natural fertilizers.”

Bartz said the Brookhaven campus is beautiful and has amazing flora and
fauna. While on campus, he has he identified 10 birds, including a hawk and
a Eurasian Collared-Dove, 10 wildflowers and four types of mushrooms,
including one medicinal and one large edible that only blooms in the fall.
He has also seen five species of animals, including a coyote, and five
insects, including the ambush bug, at least 13 butterfly species and four
moth species.

As a result of his interest in flora and fauna, Bartz said, he became
a volunteer member of Brookhaven’s campus tree advisory committee.
His first assignment was to identify and map all of the
honor trees in the main campus area.

“We have red oaks, a nice grouping of well-pruned Bradford pears and specimens of the mountain laurel,” he said. “I found that also the campus has two black walnut trees that had not been listed in an initial survey.” He also found groupings of hackberries, bois d’arcs, soapberries, elms, Italian cypresses, cottonwoods, pecan trees and mesquite trees.

Bartz said he encourages students to get outdoors, bring a cellphone or camera, take pictures and post them on Instagram using #BHCInstacampus or #BrookhavenCollege. “Find the beautiful things in nature,” he said. “This might be a pure therapeutic experience.”

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