A bobcat prowls the soccer field at the Upper Campus, shifting its gaze late at night at any slight crunch of the brush. A fully grown black bear plops into a water trough at the nearby baseball field to cool off after an active, hot summer day. A young deer casually strolls up to a gate on a dirt road that doubles as the high school cross country course, sniffing the flowers sprouting up alongside the road.
With the large number of noteworthy animals that call the 195-acre Upper Campus home, you’d think the high school students who live and go to school here were tending a zoo. However, all of these animals roaming what is affectionately known as “The Hill” are part of a different kind of exhibit.
Instead of being live in front of smiling faces, they’ve been captured by game cameras set up in recent years by Advanced Placement Environmental Science students. The game cameras add an innovative aspect to the AP curriculum while pioneering a new way to see wildlife on campus. Most who study and work at the Upper Campus will never see half of the creatures captured on the cameras, so these photos provide a taste of what happens in the outdoors when nobody is around and nobody is watching.
Last year, the game cameras were a supplementary assignment to the curriculum, but this year they are serving a more vital and science-centered purpose, allowing students to record yearlong changes in the animals that roam campus.
“Before we were just looking for cute animals, but we’re now making it more scientific,” Wickenhaeuser said. “We can get an idea of what animals are out at what time, what they’re doing, and what their seasonal variations might be.”