Fairmont State’s Falcon Park becomes certified wildlife habitat

The National Wildlife Federation recently certified the Falcon Park on Fairmont State’s campus as a Certified Wildlife Habitat. The certification is based on providing habitat for birds, butterflies and other wildlife that includes food sources, water, cover, resources to raise their young, and sustainable practices.  
 
Falcon Park is a 7.9-acre green space on Fairmont State’s campus. The Falcon Park trail runs through the wooded section at the top of campus. There is also an east trailhead at the top of Squibb Wilson Blvd. by the Falcon Park flag and a west trailhead by the Fairmont State tennis courts. This location also features a round yurt structure located near the entrance.  
 
“The Falcon Park started as an idea that was incorporated into a class that was shared with others. That resulted in students selecting a trailhead marker as their senior project,” said Falcon Park & Trail Coordinator Jan Kiger. “As a result, the request to designate the 7.9-acre wooded space at the top of Fairmont State’s campus became a reality.” 
 
This living laboratory offers opportunities for long-term relationships between humans and nature that emphasizes a full range of physical, mental, and cognitive engagement. In addition to the natural environment, the park has multiple designed spaces for education and engagement that include a trail system, yurt, open-air community space, hammock hangout area, a sensory space, and citizen science stations. 
 
“The Park has numerous features. There is a trail system that is about a mile long and constantly growing. It is amazing when you are in the park, you don’t feel like you are on a college campus. It is so peaceful,” Kiger added. 
 
The goal of the Park is to invite people from all walks of life to engage with the outdoors through activities such as applied math, art, nature therapy, environmental stewardship, and citizen science. Contact with the environment, coupled with diverse programming opportunities, will promote healthier social behavior, connect participants to the environment, engage users in citizen science and educate the population about sustainable practices that protect wildlife habitat.  
 
In addition to the certification, the park was recently nominated for the Society of Outdoor Recreation Professionals’ Project Excellence award. The nomination is based on the uniqueness of the project, the level of problem-solving, innovation, creativity, impact, and team collaboration. The Falcon Park project is an ongoing effort led by Assistant Professor of Outdoor Recreation, Jan Kiger. 
 
For more information and to volunteer at the park, contact falconpark@fairmontstate.edu.  

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