Lee Biology Professor Earns Wildlife Award

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The collaboration of Dr. Michael Freake, associate professor of biology at Lee University, and other partners have won the nationwide State Wildlife Action Plan Partnership Award. The partnership includes Lee University, Middle Tennessee State University and the Nashville Zoo.  The awards will be presented to recipients on March 6 at the congressional reception in Washington, D.C.

“This year’s competition was really tight with several really great nominations. It truly was a tough decision,” said Mary Pfaffko, Teaming with Wildlife associate. 

The collaborative effort, called the Tennessee Hellbender Recovery Partnership, is focused on the Eastern Hellbender, a rare giant salamander found in area streams. In 2011, THRP received a grant from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, which administers the federally funded State Wildlife Grant.

The three elements of the partnership split up responsibilities. Dr. Freake coordinates field surveys in east Tennessee, handles all genetic analyses and has worked with Stephen Spear of the Orianne Society to develop a new survey technique of testing river water samples for the presence of the hellbender DNA.

“For me, working on hellbenders is all about creating and sustaining partnerships with other experts in the field because there are so many challenges to studying and managing our declining populations of hellbenders,” Dr. Freake said. “It’s definitely not a one person show and that is why we are all so delighted to receive this award.”

He was assisted with fieldwork, funding and publicity by Rick Jackson and David Hedrick of the Chattanooga Zoo, and Jim Herrig of the USDA Forest Service. 

“The reasons we care about hellbenders is their uniqueness,” Dr. Freake said. “Since they are completely aquatic and need clean, cool streams, they are a valuable indicator of water quality. If they disappear from our rivers, it is a clear message that all is not well. Our concern is that this may be the last generation of Tennessee residents that will have hellbenders in the wild.”

The partnership is recognized for their efforts in the conservation of hellbenders and gaining media attention for State Wildlife Grants. 

For more information call Dr. Freake at 614-8282 or email mfreake@leeuniversity.edu. 



Dalton Senior Receives Gates Millennium Scholarship

For the twelfth time in nine years, a Gates Millennium Scholar has come from Dalton High School. Senior Uriel Paniagua, 18, is the most recent Catamount to receive this prestigious scholarship. The Gates Millennium Scholars program was founded in 1999 and is funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. To qualify, a student must be of a minority race and ... (click for more)

Belvoir Christian Academy Students Support St. Jude

Each spring, students from Belvoir Christian Academy participate in St. Jude's Math-a-Thon. Students must complete a series of math problems and raise donations for their efforts. This year, BCA students helped raise $2,302. Of that total, sixth grader Dixie Booth brought in over $2,000 to support this annual effort for the organization. (click for more)

Volkswagen Chattanooga Builds First Midsize SUV Test Body

Volkswagen Chattanooga has reached an early production milestone with the completion of the first assembled metal test body   for the upcoming Midsize SUV. The production of the first assembled metal test body is an early step towards the full production of the Chattanooga-made Midsize SUV, scheduled to begin production late this year and hit the market in 2017. The first ... (click for more)

County Commission Told To Fully Fund County Schools Improvement Request Would Take 28 1/2-Cent Property Tax Increase; 78 School Personnel Would Be Added

County Mayor Jim Coppinger told members of the County Commission at a budget workshop on Tuesday that it would take a 28 1/2-cent property tax increase to fully fund the county school budget request. The county schools are asking for $24,218,919 in new money for a focus on workforce readiness, literacy and low-performing schools. County Mayor Coppinger did not say whether ... (click for more)

Marvelous News From Central High School

To Roy Exum:     With all the recent news of major dysfunctions within our educational system, I thought I might alert you to something better. About a year ago you ventured up Highway 58 to Central High School to represent your late grandfather, Roy McDonald, as he was honored as a Distinguished Alumnus during the annual Senior Day festivities. I sort of expected ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The DA’s Cold-Case Quest

It is clearly a job nobody can do for over an hour or two, but Neal Pinkston, working in hand with precise professionals from the county’s auditing department, is intent on doing the right thing. As I watched a revolving team of four people at a time open and study envelopes of autopsy photographs on Tuesday, the scene would have made a fascinating television documentary. But ... (click for more)