When Warren Wilson College students signed up for Catherine Reid’s Environmental Journalism class, they had no idea their first major assignment would be to write and record a radio piece. Immediately, students started brainstorming topics of local environmental importance to explore and report on in a 3 minute, 40 second radio slot for Asheville radio station WPVM (103.5 FM). With only a few weeks until deadline, students scrambled for information, skimming through periodicals and seeking interviews with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, biology professors, farmers, local government officials and an archaeologist.
WPVM broadcasts the biweekly “Swannanoa Journal,” the brainchild of John Huie when he was director of War ren Wilson’s Environmental Leadership Center. This is the first time a class has been involved in the journals, and the students are already being asked to create more.
As stories materialized and papers were read aloud in class, it was curious just how many different styles there were. Some journals contained lyrical meanders; others zoomed in more closely on local environmental concerns. “It was a wonderful exercise to take these beautifully shaped ideas and share them with a larger audience,” Professor Reid said. The focus was immediate and the implications were large.”
The journals explored the following topics, among others: the values we bear in deciding a state amphibian, profiles of local activists, water quality of the Swannanoa River, who is benefiting from our regional drought, what it’s like to discover a new species of “water bears” from the phylum Tartigrada, and more.