Under the Knife: New student group maps Arboretum central to mission

The Nature Walks Club is a new group on campus as of the fall 2013 semester that aims to increase student well-being through peaceful walks at sites such as the Spencer J. Roemer Arboretum. Spearheaded by President junior Ben Wolf and Vice Presidents juniors Austin Fluellen and Jesse Strickler, this up-and-coming club aims to revitalize Geneseo's Arboretum by both fostering the natural setting and partaking in stimulating group discussion.

According to Strickler, the three students were first drawn to the Arboretum during their freshman year at Geneseo, when they took full advantage of the convenient and beautiful park. They considered themselves “number-one appreciators of the 'arb.'”

Recently, however, they said they have been discouraged by the mistreatment that the Arboretum has seen.

“Things have really changed since we were freshmen,” Fluellen said. “We're trying to get people to realize what more the Arboretum has to offer.”

Following this realization, the trio began considering starting a club to promote the importance of natural settings. This past spring, they put their idea into action and began the process of getting the club ratified by the college.

Thanks to the hard work of the three founding members as well the guidance of professor of geography Irina Vasiliev, the Nature Walks Club is in its inaugural semester.

Each week, the group plans to walk the Arboretum and partake in a discussion on topics the leaders have prepared, which Wolf said will encompass a “multi-disciplinary perspective of ongoing processes like geological, psychological [and] chemical, incorporating a wide variety of academic disciplines.”

In addition, the group leaders said they would like to take the time to clean up any trash or debris in the Arboretum following each meeting, in order to preserve the space. This structure is decidedly very loose, and the founders said they hope that as the club evolves, their activities will become more collaborative, especially as new members and interested professors get more involved in their mission.

Think Local Geneseo, an organization that promotes local, sustainable food and farming, has already contacted the founders, making an effort to help organizations of this type gain recognition and prominence in the community.

Despite similarities that the NWC may have with other environmentally conscious clubs on campus, the founders said the club plans to contribute to the local community in its own way.

“We look forward to being in communication and working together with those like-minded organizations, but we definitely do see ourselves as a separate entity that has something unique to bring to this community,” Strickler said.

The club meets for the first time on Oct. 5. Strickler said he hopes that the club will bring members closer to the natural world.

“You will be standing in this beautiful natural setting, and you will be brought closer to your natural surroundings,” he said.