Kudzu's Impact On Our Local Community
The hometown of Gaston Day school iGEM is in Gastonia, North Carolina. Gastonia’s leading economic venture is manufacturing. Jobs in this line of work are the most prevalent type of employment in the town (Sperling, 2019). Manufacturing causes harmful effects on the environment, such as global warming, water, soil, and air pollution. Factories can even jeopardize human health. The main concern with factories to the Gaston Day iGEM team is the negative effect on the natural environment, specifically flora and fauna. Gastonia’s manufacturing economy puts high stress on our hometown’s environment, and these stresses are only further exasperated in the presence of Kudzu (How Can Factories Affect the Environment?, 2018). North Carolina provides an optimal breeding ground for Kudzu, and as a result, the Kudzu population thrives in Gastonia. The Kudzu consumes the already minimal amount of land, and competition is nonexistent. The vine spreads over any and all surface areas available. It is resistant to pesticides on the market and has no natural predators. The process to eradicate Kudzu from a site is long and tumultuous. It has pushed out much local flora and fauna struggling for life in their developing community, driving them to scramble to stay in Gastonia. Animals have to look for food sources elsewhere, seeing that no wild animals eat Kudzu (North Carolina Travel, 2015). Gaston Day iGEM plans to eradicate Kudzu out of a necessity to protect the plants and animals of our community.
Learning From Our Community
This year, we sought to increase our community’s knowledge of synthetic biology, kudzu, our project, and iGEM. We created a Google Form where we asked people what their knowledge of synthetic biology, kudzu, and iGEM and if they had any questions relevant to the three subjects. After collecting back responses, we created a pamphlet that addresses the participants’ questions and put it on our Instagram account. In addition, we met with experts from the USDA and NC State, as well as the St. Andrews iGEM team to troubleshoot and get advice for our project. We learned a lot about modelling from St. Andrews in a series of meetings. From an expert from the USDA, we learned that after we eradicate kudzu from an area, the ecosystem can repopulate itself. We also got the idea to make a science education brochure because the expert from NC State stressed the importance of listening to the members of the community.
How Can Factories Affect The Environment? (2018). Retrieved October 27, 2020, from http://www.field.org.uk/how-can-factories-affect-the-environment/
Sperling. (2019). Sperling's Best Places. Retrieved October 27, 2020, from https://www.bestplaces.net/economy/city/north_carolina/gastonia
The Invasion of Kudzu. (2015, July 08). Retrieved October 27, 2020, from https://www.northcarolinatravel.org/the-invasion-of-kudzu/