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Pictured is a Point Park student planting a tree on Sycamore Island. | Photo by Kelly Cline

A group of Point Park biological sciences, biotechnology, forensic science and premedical and preprofessional studies majors recently spent their Saturday helping to plant 300 trees and shrubs on Sycamore Island, located just outside of Pittsburgh on the Allegheny River.

The students worked alongside staff from local environmental organizations including Allegheny Land Trust, Tree Pittsburgh, Western Pennsylvania Conservancy and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Sycamore Island Tree Planting Event

"The tree planting event was led by the Allegheny Land Trust, an organization trying to reestablish native vegetation on Sycamore Island, which was once privately owned and had a marina on it," explained Matthew Opdyke, Ph.D., associate professor of environmental science.

According to Opdyke, Allegheny Land Trust has completed projects on the island such as converting an old swimming pool into a vernal pool for amphibians and turtles and designing a hiking trail.

"By participating in the event at Sycamore Island, I learned that there is a place in the Pittsburgh area that is dedicated to planting trees and taking care of the environment," remarked Chloe Callison, a sophomore premedical and preprofessional studies major from Miamisburg, Ohio.

Callison's career goal is to become a pediatric emergency room doctor.

"As an international student, I enjoyed exploring another part of Pittsburgh," said Hana Jiraskova, a sophomore biological sciences major from Lanskroun, Czech Republic. "Also, I was glad I could help in doing something good for our planet," she added.

After graduation, Jiraskova hopes to work for a health or ecology department.

"This was a great opportunity for our students to get out of Downtown and see another part of the Pittsburgh region," said Opdyke, who is connecting students this summer to opportunities such as salamander and botanical sampling. "My goal every semester is always to motivate students to get outdoors and be involved with the research their professors are doing."

Photos by Kelly Cline, a senior photojournalism and global cultural studies double major

More About: M.S. in environmental studies, Pittsburgh, biology, student trips