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Council President’s Address to SPS

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Deborah Haliczer
President, Supportive Professional Staff Council

Set phasers to welcome!

Deborah Haliczer
Deborah Haliczer

SPS president and avid trekkie Deborah Haliczer talks about taking the helm in her first SPS Captain's Log.
Our new captain brings with her many years of experience and institutional memory, a calm, welcoming demeanor, and more than a few pieces of Star Trek memorabilia. "I always bring my Starship Enterprise mug to meetings and even wear my communicator when I need it," says Haliczer. Whether she will wear her Vulcan ears to a meeting remains to be seen.

Star Date, October 2013

Welcome to the 2013-2014 academic year. As we move into this new academic year, we face new opportunities. We are serving this wonderful university at a time of challenge and celebration. We have a new leader in President Baker, who is boldly re-positioning our university to meet the realities of enrollments and state funding. Our new Athletics Director, our SPS colleague Sean Frazier, just celebrated a victory at his first NIU Homecoming. Our new SPS colleague, Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management Eric Weldy, is facing the enrollment challenges with the help and support of the NIU community. And we have another new SPS colleague, our new Police Chief, Tom Phillips. We have opened the renovated Gilbert Hall as a residence for upper class students. I have fond memories of living there in my undergraduate days, and the new look is very welcoming! This summer saw parking lots re-done, roofs repaired, and improvements made everywhere to enhance safety and aesthetics. Together, we are moving forward to celebrate the positive steps, and to face the challenges.

After years of excellent service to the students of NIU, and to his College, our SPS Council President, Todd Latham, left NIU to boldly go where he has not gone before, into a new area of educational leadership. As a reliable spokesperson and leader of the SPS Council, he will be missed by all his colleagues. It is an honor for me to go where I have not yet gone, after being elected to serve for the remainder of Todd’s term. I have served as a Representative on SPS Council, and on many of our committees for 16 years, but moving from the “crew” to the president’s chair has brought me to a new role in discussions on enrollments, inaugurations, concealed carry policies, “bold futures” groups and advocating for the rights and wellbeing of our SPS colleagues.

I have worked at NIU for 22 years, from starting the Employee Assistance Program, to working in Human Resources. I have worked with SPS as well as faculty and operating staff and administrators on all types of workplace issues. My normal activities include advising colleagues about policies and resources, problem solving, conflict resolution, conducting and planning supervisor training, providing advice, and serving as an advocate for the workplace wellbeing of all of our colleagues. Serving on SPS Council has always given me an additional opportunity to do my part to help make NIU an institution that cares about students, faculty, and staff in all categories, at the NIU campus as well as our off-campus locations. I am also a proud member of the NIU Alumni Association and the parent of an NIU alumna. I can say for a fact that an NIU education can and does make career success possible for our students.

Supportive Professional Staff are campus leaders in this educational enterprise. Our members work directly with students to advise and support them in their educational journeys that lead to successful futures. While you reflect on our mission, do take the opportunity to nominate deserving colleagues for the SPS Presidential Award for Excellence (forms can be found at http://www.niu.edu/spsc/awards/call_pres_award.shtml). Those nominations are an important statement that your colleagues make a difference.  I am confident that we will all work together, as we have always done, to help our University move forward on a path that has many challenges, and even more opportunities.

Please also take a moment to read the rest of this newsletter to see what other members of the SPS  Council have been up to, learn some fun facts about President Baker and NIU first lady Dr. Dana Stover,  as well as an unusual look at NIU’s campus—hint, you may want to watch where you boldly go when the geese are around.

Deborah Haliczer, President
SPS Council

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Custard with NIU President Baker and First Lady Dana Stover

Holly Nicholson

Holly Nicholson
Web Content Manager

President Baker and First Lady Dana Stover share their stories and some frozen custard with members of the SPS Council Communications Committee

Custard with President Baker and First Lady Dana Stover
President Baker and First Lady Dana
Stover with members of the SPS
Council Communications Committee

Over Huskie sundaes and pumpkin custard waffle cones at Ollie’s, the SPSC Communications Committee learned a little more about NIU’s first couple, Drs. Doug Baker and Dana Stover.

They first met in the college town of Lincoln, Nebraska. One evening, Dana decided to stop by a bar with a friend on the way home from a baby shower. Two young men joined them at their table and, after one of them rescued a fellow student from a professor’s awkward advances, Dana began to take notice. Seven years, and several adventures later, they were married.

Family trips were an important part of the Stover-Baker household. Each of their two daughters, Hannah and Robin, was able to take turns traveling with Doug during summer breaks. Their favorite trips were motorcycle journeys to the Tetons, Yellowstone, and Canada. Hannah was even able to join Doug on a business trip to Japan. As a family, they also traveled to their cabins in Oregon and Minnesota, went camping, and took two trips to Europe that included stops in Rome, Venice, and Paris.

Motorcycle riding is a natural fit for a couple who loves to be outdoors. “You really do experience the world differently than you do when you’re in a car,” Dana said. “It’s really a great way to see the country.” Doug first rode, and subsequently crashed, his first motorcycle when he was 13. His dad brought home a Black Widow as a surprise, and Doug immediately jumped on and found himself stuck in a briar patch when he accelerated instead of hitting the brakes. Dana began to ride after she met Doug and took a motorcycle safety course. Their first trip together on their bikes was more than 3,000 miles and spanned the West Coast from California to Canada.

The family has also had their share of pets. Beginning small with hermit crabs, they eventually upgraded to guinea pigs (Oliver & Oatmeal) and then cats (Spots and Eliza).

One of their most challenging and rewarding experiences as parents began when they moved from Pullman, WA, to Vancouver when their youngest daughter, Robin, was 3, to get her situated in a better deaf education program. After researching and choosing a program, their school district refused to support Robin’s schooling or provide transportation to her school. They learned during a failed due process hearing that the law was written in a way that gave the school district power to determine which programs it would support without evidence of the efficacy of the programs. This began a more-than-five-year journey of building a coalition and ultimately effecting change in six Washington state laws. In the process, they met legislators and worked with them on bringing together the three “camps” of varying philosophies in deaf education, which formerly opposed each other in courtrooms, to help them bring about legislation that benefitted all of them. “You’ve got camps that love what they’re doing. If they believe that they can come together, there can be a bigger future,” Doug said. “That’s part of our job.”

Robin is now studying biology, natural resources, and statistics. She is planning on pursuing a Ph.D. in marine biology. Hannah studied environmental art in a blended discipline, experiential learning environment. The beginning of her first class, taught by an ethnobiologist and a puppeteer, was spent camping out in Mount Rainier National Park. She now works for Liaka, a film production company, producing 3D stop-action movies.

Doug and Dana have settled comfortably into their new roles at NIU. Their great ability to engage with students is due to their focus on genuine listening. “When someone really cares about getting to know [students], students are going to connect with that and know when someone really does care,” Dana said. Making connections on campus is key, said Dana, who enjoyed coffee hours with University of Idaho (UI) students every day. Winners of UI’s Alumni Award of Excellence often selected her as their most influential person.

Supportive Professional Staff employees also have significant opportunities to connect with students, as well as participate in supporting Dr. Baker’s pillars. “[SPS employees] can play a huge role in improving communication and building community with a sense of direction. I think we can inspire leadership by getting that message and reality out there,” Doug said. Recruitment and retention are key areas in which NIU employees can work together, and with students, to make improvements. From befriending a student or helping someone figure out his or her financial aid or class schedule, to making classes more interesting and co-curricular experiences more engaging, opportunities for positive change abound.

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Supportive Professional Staff Scholarship Fund Awards First Recipient

Abby Dean

Abigail Dean
Associate Director, Communcations and Marketing

SPS Scholarship Winner Mason Bross, with mother, Lori Bross
Mason and Lori Bross

Meet Mason Bross. At Sycamore High School, he was a four-year Honor Roll student, played soccer and ran track, drummed with the marching and symphonic bands, and sang madrigals.  He's a freshman this year at NIU majoring in Computer Science, and he is the first recipient of the Supportive Professional Staff Dependent Scholarship.

His mother, Lori Bross, works for the Department of Biological Sciences.  Mason credits her with his love of science and his affinity for NIU.  "Mom has always been proud of being a part of NIU, whether as an employee, and alumna or a parent - my sister was also a Huskie - and this couldn't help but rub off on me," he says.

Because of Northern's proximity to home, the reputation of the Computer Science department, and the variety of extra-curriculars, Mason knew NIU was the best fit for him.  Of course, the affordability of the quality education NIU offers was a major factor for Mason as well. Although he’s familiar with NIU, Mason’s looking forward to discovering all NIU has to offer inside, as well as outside, the classroom.

Thanks to the generosity of NIU employees, annuitants, and friends of the university, we were able to make his freshman year a little more affordable. Through the SPS Dependent Scholarship, this amazing young man received $1,000 towards his tuition and fees--certainly a smart investment for NIU.

SPS employees hold many different positions at NIU, making impacts on every aspect of our students’ collegiate experiences.  Donating to the SPS Dependent Scholarship is just one more way we can have further impact and make the dream of attaining a higher education that much more possible for our hardworking students. We are thankful for the donations we have already received; the scholarship fund’s growth is a testament to our belief in our students. To assist in the council’s goal of permanently endowing the scholarship, we ask each SPS member to consider donating $30. Donations can be made on-line or through payroll deduction. Visit http://www.niu.edu/spsc/scholarship/index.shtml for more information, or contact Anne Hardy at ahardy@niu.edu or 815-753-0143.

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Supportive Professional Staff Council Elections

Donna Smith

Donna Smith
Catalog Editor and Curriculum Coordinator

How Elections Work
Every spring, nominations are solicited from SPS employees for candidates from each of the six SPS Divisions. Nominees are then confirmed for eligibility and interest and become candidates. Candidates receive votes from fellow SPS employees in their division via an online ballot. At the end of the voting period, the candidates are ranked in descending order of votes received and assigned to Council vacancies (with representative vacancies taking priority over alternate vacancies and two-year vacancies taking priority over one-year vacancies). Any relevant ties are manually resolved.

The Divisions
All SPS employees are members of one of the six SPS Council Divisions. The assignment of divisions is determined by the employee’s department. (A list of the departments belonging to each Council division can be found on the SPSC website.)

The Council consists of 24 representatives, 24 (non-voting) alternates, and one president. The president is elected at large and does not represent any particular division. Each representative is elected from and represents his or her division. Each representative also has a single designated alternate (also elected from the specific Council division).

The proportion of the 24 representative seats across the six divisions is based upon the proportion of all SPS employees in each division. The Council reexamined the proportions in spring 2012, to ensure the Council membership reflects the base employee ratios (although there is a two-representative/alternate minimum for all divisions).

The SPS divisions and their current associated Council composition are detailed in the table below.

SPS Divisions
Division Number Division Name Seats
1 Academic & Student Affairs - Provost’s Office 2
2 Academic & Student Affairs - Student Services 4
3 Academic & Student Affairs - Liberal Arts and Sciences 3
4 Academic & Student Affairs - Other Colleges and Graduate School 5
5 Finance and Facilities - General Administration/Development/President 8
6 Intercollegiate Athletics 2

In addition to holding elections for SPS Council representatives, the Council this year held a special election for president due to the departure of the former president.  Deborah Haliczer was elected to that position.  Supportive Professional Staff also have representation on the following university committees:  Academic Policies and Procedures Manual Advisory Committee, Affirmative Action and Diversity Resources Advisory, Athletic Board, Campus Parking Committee, Campus Security and Environmental Quality Committee, Committee on Multicultural Curriculum Transformation, Community Standards and Student Conduct Advisory Board, Computing Facilities Advisory Committee, Faculty Development and Instructional Design Advisory Committee, Library Advisory Committee, Parking Appeals Committee, Presidential Commissions (Persons with Disabilities, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, Status of Minorities, Status of Women), Student Conduct Board, Unity in Diversity Steering Committee, University Benefits Committee, and the University Council.

There are plenty of opportunities for SPS to become involved at NIU and have a voice!  Be on the lookout for further invitations for the SPS Council or a university committee!.

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Fall 2013 Supportive Professional Council Events

Melissa Burlingame Janet Love-Moore 

Melissa Burlingame, mburlingame@niu.edu
Janet Love-Moore, jlovemoore@niu.edu
Co-Chairs, SPS Council Events Committee

SPS Rep. Donna Smith at Huskie Stadium
Donna Smith tours Huskie Stadium

This past summer, the SPS Events Committee hosted its first ever summer events. On Tuesday, July 23rd, 40 Supportive Professional Staff from around campus joined Sue Hansfield and Matt Gonzalez to tour the Huskie Stadium, Yordon Center, and take a peek at the Chessick Practice Center.

Next up for the summer tours was the Chiller Plant on August 8th, when 10 SPS members toured along with Kevin Howard to learn more about how NIU heats and cools the campus. The cavernous chiller rooms were pretty amazing!

Fall 2013 Recap

The SPS Events Committee has been working hard to plan a full schedule of events for the Fall 2013 semester. There are several tours, social events, Office Highlights, and Meet & Eats (the new name for the Brown Bag lunches) scheduled.

So far this semester, 12 SPS members toured Gilbert Hall with Dino Martinez (see pictures) and another 25 SPS members learned more about the roles of Sarah Klaper (Ombudsperson) and Toni Tollerud  (Faculty & SPS Personnel Advisor).

On October 22nd, the SPS Events Committee has planned an Office Highlight of the Office of Student Support Services in the HSC Blackhawk Annex from Noon-1pm,  to learn more about the programs offered by Student Support Services from Jerry Wright.

Fall 2013 Plans

**Note about events: These are open to all NIU Employees.

2013 Fall Tailgate
Fall Tailgate, October 26th!

The Annual SPS Tailgate is on October 26th before the NIU Huskies kick-off against Eastern Michigan. Hope you made reservations to join us starting at 11 a.m. for some great tailgating fun and food grilled on site by Hy-Vee. 

In November, Dr. Nick Barber will show interested participants around the Department of Biological Science’s Specimen Museum on November 5th with two tours starting at 11:45am and 12:30pm (limited to ten per tour). You could get to hold a three-foot wide eagle (stuffed, of course). Sign up to find out what other gems are in the specimen museum.

Learn more about the Center for P-20 Engagement in an Office Highlight. Marilyn Bellert, Associate Director for the Center for P-20 Engagement, will give an overview of the services provided by that office and how departments can become more involved on November 18th from Noon-1pm in the HSC Blackhawk Annex. Sign up

Gregg Westberg will show SPS around the Microelectronics Research and Development Lab at lunchtime on November 25th and 26th (limited to ten per tour). Participants will get to see how integrated circuits (microchips) are made and will also need to gear up in clean room garments. The sign up for this set of tours is limited to ten per slot, so sign up quickly.

The month of December brings us our first Lunch and Learn of the semester, focusing on Cloud Technology. Eric Biletzky (Manager of Information Services for the Division of Research and Graduate Studies), and his team of techies, will teach those interested about the different tools available to take full advantage of The Cloud. This event will be hosted on December 4th from Noon-1pm in the HSC Blackhawk Annex. Sign up

We hope to continue to see lots of new faces at these events. Have a great semester!

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SPS or Civil Service Classifications: What are the Issues?

Deborah Haliczer

Deborah Haliczer
President, Supportive Professional Staff Council

Supportive Professional Staff around campus are questioning whether there is a move to change SPS into civil service positions. Discussions range from concerns about losing status and benefits, or altering the way we conduct searches to hire qualified professionals to our areas. The SPS Council Workplace Issues has followed these developments, and discussed some information as well as some rumors. The discussions remind those of us with long institutional memories of similar conversations in the ‘90s, when many of our operating staff colleagues in the IT areas were moving into SPS positions. So what are these discussions about?


The State Universities Civil Service Act states that all employment in state universities is civil service, unless exempted under specific categories. These include presidents and vice presidents, deans, teaching and research faculty, and student employees. It also makes an exception for “Principal Administrative Appointments” (PAAs), individuals who are charged with high-level administrative or professional responsibilities, where the preponderance of the duties do not meet, or are not contained, in a civil service classification. These appointments include positions such as directors, associate directors, physicians, architects, coaches, psychologists, etc. It is important to note that there are a number of director or assistant director classifications in the civil service system. The Civil Service Merit Board and State Universities Civil Service System (SUCSS) determine which positions are exceptions from civil service appointments. At present, the university employs over 900 SPS employees, a marked increase from the numbers in the early 1990s, when those numbers were in the 300 range. It is useful to remember that many of our SPS colleagues were, at some point, operating staff until they were hired into SPS positions, or their positions were reclassified as SPS.

Many SPS do not realize that there are hundreds of civil service classifications in the SUCSS. In fact, the majority of professional staff at other state agencies are civil service employees, and those include child care workers, child protective workers, mental health therapists, social workers, nurses, psychologists and many other classifications. We who are employed as SPS at the university have these positions because there is not a civil service classification for many of our positions in the SUCSS list of titles, or, at the time of hire, a civil service classification did not include our duties.  Every two years, each university participates in an audit by the SUCSS office. Their staff review our employment procedures, personnel files, personnel transactions, training programs, and our compliance with employment rules. Their auditors interview operating staff and their supervisors and compare what is said about the jobs to the job descriptions and classification documents. The auditors also interview a sample of SPS and review their job descriptions to determine whether those positions should be classified as civil service, or if they appropriately meet the exceptions.

The SUCSS constantly updates classifications and testing protocols for positions. Many on campus noticed when their department “Secretaries” became known as “Office Support Specialists,” or when IT positions were in some cases reclassified back to civil service. Based on audits at other universities, the SUCSS has been looking at other classifications, such as advisors or positions in housing or admissions. Human Resources staff have been meeting with representatives from the other state universities and with the SUCSS administration regarding classification issues. In the past, when the auditors found that an employee’s position should really be a civil service classification, the position would be flagged and moved when the employee no longer occupied that position. More recent trends have suggested that employees could be reclassified while still in that position. At this time, the university is not moving individuals, only positions once they become vacant and have been reevaluated.

What are some of the concerns our colleagues have raised? Here are some of the issues we have heard from them:

  • Concern: Departments that recruit on a national basis through professional organizations will be negatively affected, since civil service hiring processes are based not on a national or regional search, but through employment registers and civil service testing. It would be difficult for a person from another area or another state to get on an Illinois or university employment register.
  • Concern: SPS having to take a civil service test. HRS can show you that not all “tests” are tests. Many are based on a Credentials Review, where the employment staff will review an applicant’s resume, experience, and credentials, following established assessment protocols, to rank an applicant in the hiring process.
  • Concern: That civil service positions limit the flexibility of jobs and force departments into a generic, “cookie cutter” approach to jobs. This does not reflect the realities. Civil Service specifications outline required background, education, and experience. But the department writes the specific job description for a position to be filled, within the general classification, and there is wide variety of options for departments to designate their particular requirements for skills and background that are needed for a position. Many employees may have the same classification, but their position descriptions and job responsibilities may differ considerably.
  • Concern:  That the person in a new civil service position will have to serve a probation. SPS do not serve a probationary period, Operating Staff do. Civil service employment rules deal with issues of employees moving into a new classification, and time spent in the job prior to reclassification counts toward probation and toward seniority.
  • Concern: Loss of vacation benefits. SPS (full time, regular, or temporary) who work a 12-month contract accrue 24 vacation days a year. Exempt (i.e., not hourly) civil service employees actually start to accrue 25 days per year at hire, and work up to earning 28 days of vacation a year from their tenth year and beyond. Moreover,  the NIU Board of Trustees Regulations say: “Employees of Northern Illinois University transferring without a break in service from faculty and administrative status to Civil Service status, or the reverse, shall become eligible for benefits of their new status in accord with their years of service at Northern Illinois University, and without loss of accumulated sick leave or vacation days”. (Section II.D.11)
  • Concern: If my position becomes civil service, it will become an hourly position. Some supervisors worry that if they have to convert positions from SPS to civil service, they will have to pay overtime. Whether or not a position is hourly (non-exempt) or salaried (exempt) is based on a criteria review outlined in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLLA). It is this review that determines if the position is hourly or salaried. There are civil service positions that are salaried.
  • Concern: Moving from SPS to Operating Staff will make me ineligible for a sabbatical. That is a fact. Civil Service employees are not eligible for this faculty benefit. (Did you know that SPS can apply for a sabbatical? Look for an article in a future issue of our newsletter.)
  • Concern: The SPS Council is comprised of 24 Representatives, 24 Alternates from the six electoral divisions, plus a president. Operating Staff Council is a much smaller group, 16 individuals, yet it represents a larger employee group. Will a decrease in the numbers of SPS lead to a smaller Council? That would be an issue facing the SPSC. Long memories will recall that SPS Council was also much smaller in the early 1990s, when it expanded to its present configuration.
  • Concern: Search processes will change, and SPS will be hired from registers. Supervisors will have less choice among candidates. While Operating Staff hiring processes provide the top three scores, often this provides more than three possible candidates. SPS searches allow for a broader review of applicants by the search committee, but most SPS searches only allow interviews of three or four candidates.
  • Concern: Reclassifying Supportive Professional Staff into civil service positions will lead to colleagues, including faculty, to consider the SPS employee as less “professional,” and as having less status. This sentiment has been expressed by some SPS who face changes to their positions. Our university community is based on mutual respect among all members of our NIU community, regardless of our job categories or status. Our NIU civil service colleagues include those who hold titles of nurse, or director, and our Operating Staff colleagues are a highly professional group. Nevertheless, those SPS who have talked about the proposed changes do express concern about losing status and respect as they represent their functions and departments to faculty and administrators around the university, and within their wider professions.

Parting comments:

As the State Universities Civil Service System reviews state university employment, it is inevitable that changes will occur. Our Operating Staff colleagues have expressed many similar and parallel concerns about these developments, and have met with the executive director of the SUCSS to discuss their own concerns. Change is inevitable in the employment context, and change is inevitably disorienting. As we face any changes that will occur, we will need to raise specific issues and seek clarification, engage in dialogue with the SUCSS and with Human Resources to take steps to address concerns constructively and collaboratively. The SPS Council has invited Vice President Steven Cunningham to join the Council at an upcoming meeting to discuss areas of concern about employment issues in the university context.

Deborah Haliczer, SPS Council, and Human Resource Services

(I would like to acknowledge contributions to this article by Marti Jernberg, Sarah Klaper, Celeste Latham, Kathy Smith, and Rhonda Wybourn.)

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Goose Poop at NIU: Let’s Get to the Bottom of This!

An SPS Investigative Report by Gillian King-Cargile

Gillian King-Cargile

Gillian King-Cargile
Outreach Communications Coordinator

Northern Illinois University has a beautiful campus, but something is beginning to stink around here. It’s always on our minds, and more disturbingly, on our shoes. The culprit is goose poop and it’s more than an eyesore; it’s a scourge on our quality of life.

Geese at the East Lagoon
Geese at the East Lagoon

The situation is the worst around the lagoons where precious, misguided children feed the geese white dough balls of bread and lunchtime walkers jump and stagger to avoid the slick brown g-bombs that result.
The geese are just as pervasive on social media as they are on our sidewalks and green spaces. They have at least two Facebook pages including NIU Geese (One Goose One Dream) and The Angry Goose Outside The Evans Field House. Their sites have a combined total of 2,496 likes.

Many employees who work by the lagoon have had too-close encounters with angry geese. Dr. Kristin Brynteson, Assistant Director of the Center for P-20 Engagement, says “I’ve been chased. I’ve been hissed at. I try to act tough in front of the geese, to be brave, to be the dominant species, but they’re big and they’re organized.”

Students are also concerned for their health and safety in the face of the goose menace. In the past few years alone, the Northern Star posted at least seven articles that reference goose-on-student violence. While some of the headlines try to downplay the problem, the sheer number of articles shows that the goose problem is a major issue for students.

What can the university do about this menace? It turns out there is a solution that doesn’t involve purchasing and applying hundreds of goose-sized diapers or creating a new anti-hunger initiative called Feed ‘Em Geese. For the lowdown on the goose poop problem, I talked to SPS Council member Melissa Burlingame, Program Coordinator for NIU’s Institute for the Study of the Environment, Sustainability & Energy (ESE).

According to Burlingame, Canadian geese prefer fertilized lawn grass for grazing, and NIU has a lot of it available. They also graze in areas with open sight lines and open access to water where they can see and escape predators. That means that the short grass leading up to NIU’s lagoon is paradise for geese.

Burlingame says that geese will congregate where food is easy to find. So more geese will stay more persistently where people offer handouts. She also says that we’re not doing Canada geese any favors by throwing our stale bread at them.
Even in severe weather, these birds move considerable distances to better forage and find nutritionally appropriate food. In fact, if fed an inappropriate diet such as human foods and commercial poultry feeds, young waterfowl can develop a wing deformity called angel wing, slipped wing, or dropped wing, a permanent deformity that can prevent or limit flight. Maybe we’re just as bad for them as they are for us.

And while that unsightly goose poop probably isn’t a health risk for humans, it’s murder on fish. According to Ohio Geese Control’s Goose Poop site, goose poop is a major contributor of phosphorus and nitrogen in ponds. Goose poop speeds up the natural process of nutrient enrichment leaving extra nutrients for algae and weeds to grow rapidly. A rapid increase in algae can deplete the water of oxygen, damaging the aquatic environment and causing fish kills.
So what can the university do to reduce the geese in a humane way? We can scare them or just make them feel uncomfortable. Scare tactics work better before geese become strongly attached to a site. The longer geese have used a site, the harder it will be to get them to move.

Rather than getting all of your coworkers together to have a good old fashioned goose scare, Melissa Burlingame thinks it’s better to just creep them out. She and other experts suggest habitat modification to reduce food and preferred nesting areas, and increase the sense of wariness or insecurity from danger.

In the end, some small changes to our gardening habits might be our best defense against geese and all the poop that comes along with them.

  • Replace grass with other plantings or materials. Predators stay away from simplified landscapes that leave no cover for hunting. No predators equals lots of geese.
  • Leave areas in grass to “naturalize” by ending or reduce fertilizer use and watering. Fertilizer also contributes to nutrient enrichment, algae, and fish kills in ponds.
  • Establish long grasses, shrubs, or other dense tall plants along shorelines to discourage nesting, reduce sight lines, and limit access to open water. Burlingame suggests Goldenrod, the bright yellow flowering plant that is indigenous to the area.
  • Incorporate fences, hedges, and a continuous band of emergent aquatic plants at the shoreline to create a barrier.

Have we goosed your interest in this topic? Check out these sources to learn more.