Walk showcases natural diversity of San Jac North


Efren Diosdado

Professor Stephen Lorenz holds a Common Buckeye for students to see.

Nature lovers were in for a treat Oct. 25 when San Jacinto College Biology Professor Stephan Lorenz led students and faculty on a nature walk around North Campus to survey trees, butterflies, insects, birds and, depending on the weather, possibly amphibians.

The one-hour walk started at 8 a.m. in the science building and followed the regular loop around the campus.

Lorenz said the purpose of the walks is to help students become familiar with science while becoming acquainted with North campus.

“The campus has a nice diversity, and it’s a good way to introduce biology,” Lorenz said.

He said he introduced the nature walks when he started working at San Jac 2 ½ years ago.

“It’s my passion. I do this on my spare time,” Lorenz said, “It’s a good way to learn. It’s relaxing and you’d be surprised what you find here.”

Binoculars, nets and other equipment used for the walks were purchased with a Student Success Initiative Grant Lorenz received in 2011 from the San Jacinto College Foundation.

During the walks, Lorenz said he and his students collect insects to identify later.

“Everything starts with a name. You need to be able to name it before you can study it,” he said.

Furthermore, Lorenz said he conducts a bird survey, where he identifies birds by listening to the sounds they make. During this walk, he recorded five different bird species saying over 90 different bird species exist on North campus. Afterward, Lorenz and his students record the different bird species on an Internet database viewed worldwide.

In addition to birds, the group surveyed a wasp, a monarch butterfly, a hawk, and a wandering glider, one of the few dragon flies that migrate long distances.

According to Lorenz, a total of 60 students and faculty have joined him for walks.

Lorenz said he once and invited the children from North campus’s daycare to join his group. He said the children enjoyed themselves so much catching butterflies and insects, he plans on inviting them again sometime in the future.

Meanwhile, students are surprised by what they find during the walks.

First time nature walker Randy George said he had a great experience.

“I didn’t know we had so much stuff on campus.” George said. “He (Lorenz) always talks about how much diversity we have on campus during class, and we never believe him. I came to do an extra credit review, but I started getting caught up on all of this… Yeah, I’ll come next time, better prepared, better dressed.”

Fellow student Jose Valle attended as part of a class assignment.

“This is my first formal one,” Valle said. “I had a project in biology for bio-diversity and he (Lorenz) kind of forced us to (attend); but I like it. We actually get to see what he says in class.”

Participating students not only find insects and butterflies, some students like Robin Torres meet new friends and find a career path.

“I started (attending) last year,” Torres said. “It’s a fun experience. I like biology; it’s taught me a lot of things. I didn’t know what I wanted to do career wise, and this has given me an idea. I’ve also met a lot of new people.”

Lorenz will lead two more nature walks this semester, Nov. 15 and Nov. 22. They are open to all students and faculty.