Gordon in the News: last updated 10/19/2010

Biology Professor’s Essay, "Prairie Pothole Wonder," Selected for Global Warming Anthology

By Natalie Ferjulian, Communication Arts Major '10

July 15, 2009

WENHAM, MA--For Dorothy Boorse, an appreciation of place and the natural world began through the exploration of plants and animals on her family’s five-acre farm in Pennsylvania. Now a Ph.D. in oceanography and limnology, she shares her knowledge and passion for the environment through teaching biology classes as an associate professor at Gordon College, late night salamander hunts with students, and most recently her publication in the recently published anthology Thoreau’s Legacy: American Stories about Global Warming.

Boorse’s 500-word essay, "Prairie Pothole Wonder,” recounts one of her many days spent doing Ph.D. research at the University of Wisconsin Madison in the prairie pothole wetlands of the Midwest. Her essay was one of only 67 chosen by the Union of Concerned Scientists in partnership with New York publisher Penguin Classics. The anthology’s aim is to carry on Thoreau’s legacy to appreciate our world and preserve it for future generations.

Prairie potholes, Boorse says, are shallow depressions in the earth’s crust due to the receding of glaciers during the last ice age. Now wetlands, the “potholes” are rich in plant and aquatic life. Those most endangered by climate change are waterfowl that nest in the prairie pothole region during migration.

“I jumped at the opportunity to write about how climate change has affected an area of the environment I truly love,” said Boorse, who also testified before a U.S. House Resources subcommittee about Christian stewardship and the need of species for habitat corridors. “I have so many fond memories of being in prairie potholes, but I’ve also experienced how fragile their ecosystems are.”

Consequently, Boorse recounts the smaller endangered creatures in her essay. She writes, Today I am surveying the macroinvertebrates in a pothole on conservation land. As I sort my net samples, I know I will not find the unique fairy shrimp I would have seen a few weeks ago because their short adult life span is over. I will, however, find dragonfly nymphs, small snails and the tadpoles of various frogs, their development hurried in a race to leave before evaporating water strands them like raisins in a patch of baking mud.”

Boorse feels a strong call to preservation. “My hope is that this essay might help people to rethink the beauty and fragility of their natural surroundings, and work to take care of them,” she said.

Boorse has been published in various other journals as well. To read her essay in Thoreau’s Legacy: American Stories about Global Warming, visit http://www.ucsusa.org/americanstories/project-authors.html.

For more information, contact Jo Kadlecek in the Office of College Communications, 978.867.4752 or jo.kadlecek@gordon.edu.



Gordon College is a Christian college of the liberal arts and sciences on Boston’s North Shore. The College offers majors in 37 fields and has graduate programs in education and music education. Leading the way in Christian college merit, Gordon is nationally ranked for its excellence in academics and its role in character building. These achievements recognize Gordon as one of the nation’s top Christian colleges.




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