Asylum Lake preserve, located at 3836 S Drake Road, is a 274-acre parcel of land owned by Western Michigan University. The area is preserved as a passive-use recreation center under an agreement between WMU and the City of Kalamazoo. Originally, WMU planned on building its College of Engineering on the land; however, they eventually opted to relocate it to Parkview Avenue, partially due to student intervention. Now, Asylum Lake serves as a research area for professors and students of anthropology, biology, geography, hydrogeology, and environmental studies at WMU and other institutions.

For our class’s final time meeting together, we decided to take a trip to Asylum Lake and discuss the events of the semester over a picnic. It felt like quite an appropriate ending to a class like this, exploring a natural area and seeing firsthand one of the planet’s many carbon dioxide “sinks” (which is essentially the opposite of a CO2 source - rather than emitting CO2, it removes it from the atmosphere). These kinds of areas are of huge importance to the fight against climate change, as they’re perhaps the Earth’s only natural agent that removes CO2 from the atmosphere.

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All things considered, the picnic went incredibly smoothly. It was a pleasant, calm spring day (followed by a storm that night, after we left). We found a spot and sat in a circle, passing food around and having general conversation with each other. Almost all the food was gone once everyone was done eating, so it was nice to not have to waste anything. The rest of the trip was spent meandering around Asylum Lake’s winding trails, taking in the scenery and interacting with the wildlife (specifically, a little garter snake).

By the end of the hike, we found out that this trip was one of our classmates’ last ever experiences as a WMU college student; after she left, she was officially done with all her classes at Western. I can’t speak for her, but I would imagine that ending it off on such a beautiful and emotional class hike would be a wonderful and sentimental experience.

I hope you all have a wonderful summer. Best of luck in your future endeavors :)

Jessica Poling
Jacob Colegio
Rachel Salgat