Joe Matanoski has been a professor of biology at Stevenson University in Owings Mills for many years. In 2007 his colleague, former Soldiers Delight Conservation, Inc. board member Claudia Floyd, also a faculty member at Stevenson at the time, told Joe about the unusual geological and biological features of the nearby Soldiers Delight Natural Environment Area.
Joe visited Soldiers Delight to check out the hiking trails and our visitor center. He was fascinated by the site’s significance as the largest remaining serpentine barrens on the east coast, which had just recently earned a state wildlands designation, offering the biodiverse ecosystem further protections from encroachment and development. Joe knew he had to find a way to weave Soldiers Delight’s many attributes into his biology curriculum at school.
Since 2008, Professor Matanoski has used Soldiers Delight as an educational resource at Stevenson University, teaching his students about the unique characteristics of the site. Since 2010, Joe has conducted research, with the blessing of the Maryland State ecologist in charge of Soldiers Delight, on the some of the area’s rare species of flora and on the long-term effects of deer browsing on both aboveground vegetation and seed bank composition in plant communities. Only two students at a time are permitted to join the professor in conducting his botanical and biological studies in the highly sensitive habitat.
In 2007, Joe became a member of the SDCI board of directors so that he could further his commitment to providing greater knowledge and understanding of the Soldiers Delight preserve for everyone. In addition to his instructional support, since 2008 Joe has been recruiting and providing student volunteers for twice yearly restoration efforts at the Natural Environment Area.
That kind of sustained dedication to the valuable resource we know as Soldiers Delight is what makes our board of directors and the core mission of the SDCI Friends group so indispensable. Joe’s assistance in ferreting out best practices with regard to restoring some of the rarest species of flora on the serpentine barrens is essential to our purpose.