How a campus Electrician creates UM-Dearborn’s very own Discovery Channel

Jeremie McCoy smiles next to the Block M shaped insect hotel.

Jeremie McCoy does more than being a Master Electrician at the University of Michigan-Dearborn–although that in itself is no small feat. In his spare time, he also records underwater footage from the Environmental Interpretive Center’s frog pond of the amphibians that live below the surface. 

Jeremie explained, “growing up I’ve always liked watching National Geographic and Discovery Channel” so he had always been interested in observing animal behavior. He has been working on Dearborn’s campus for the past five years (after 14 at Ann Arbor’s) and every day during his lunch break, he would walk past the frog pond and notice what was happening above water. Jeremie saw the differences in activity as the seasons changed, and after four years of this, he was curious about what was happening underneath the surface. “I decided to just take a chance and buy a camera.”

Before recording the videos, Jeremie had noticed how there was more animal activity when it was warmer out. But once he started to record the underwater goings-on, a whole new world was available to him that most people that just stroll past the pond would never see. For example, he has a few videos that he recorded in slow motion because of how quick the frogs will swim by the camera; on land they’re much slower, but when underwater, frogs can swim past within the blink of an eye. He’s been sharing information on what has been going on above and under the surface with the staff at the Environmental Interpretive Center (EIC) so they can record species data during specific times of the year.

After getting his water-proof camera a little over a year ago, Jeremie is still experimenting with his set-up. He still hasn’t “found a ‘sweet spot’ that would capture all of the activity.” 90% of the time Jeremie will have his camera completely submerged, but this May, he began to do some videos above the surface as well. This helped him notice that there were two frogs that were either very playful or very territorial with each other. “There’s a big frog that likes to sit here,” he told me, pointing to a rock in one of the videos, “and a little frog that tries to come over to this area as well.” When this happens, the big frog will jump in the little frog’s face, potentially trying to tell the smaller frog to get out of its space. 

These above surface videos also allowed Jeremie to see what other animals interact with the pond, such as squirrels that come for a refreshing drink (one of the featured clips below, complete with watching frogs). “It’s kind of like this office building,” he demonstrated, gesturing to the Campus Support Services building that I was interviewing him in. “A custodian passing by, saying hello to someone, and then going about their day, just like the rest of the workers.” For Jeremie, this paralleled the interactions between the different animals that live in or visit the pond.

Despite being dubbed the frog pond, these amphibians are not the only creatures that live within these shallow waters; Jeremie also has videos of the turtles that live there, as well as concerns for them during dry seasons. Since water levels are lower during this time of year, the land around the pond gets to the point where it is much higher than the water below it, making it really difficult for the turtles to be able to crawl out of the water–which they need to be able to do in order to lay their eggs on land. Jeremie hopes to be able to discuss with someone the possibility of raising the pond’s water levels during dry seasons so that the turtles can thrive during this crucial period.

His wanting to help the turtles with the water levels speaks to his on campus job as well. “I fix things,” Jeremie explained, listing out “lights, plugs, electronic doors, etc.” He performs not just corrective maintenance, but preventative as well, both of which are very useful when increasing the sustainability of campus operations. Examples of these types of projects that he’s worked on are installing automatic controls for lighting, using solar-powered batteries for the Field House generator, and assisting with the LED Lighting Retrofit project that was just completed. 

The frog pond surrounded in natural rocks and flowers.

Although this probably will not happen until next year, the frog pond is not the only place that Jeremie is interested in recording. He also wants to be able to take time lapses of baby birds within nests during early spring, which will showcase their growth over time. As a way to help preserve these natural habitats for the myriad of species that live on Dearborn’s campus, Jeremie urges everyone to make sure that they do not litter or cause any other disturbances. This way, we’ll all be able to enjoy the beautiful wildlife for years to come, and be able to watch more of Jeremie’s wonderful recordings.

Anyone interested in visiting the frog pond will find it along the path by the EIC that leads North towards Henry Ford Community College, next to the Block M insect hotel. Other wildlife on the University of Michigan-Dearborn’s campus can be seen on the EIC trails from sun-up to sun-down. The EIC also co-hosts Nature Walks for Mental Health along with Counseling and Psychological Services and the Planet Blue Ambassador program all year long. Visit Victorslink to see the upcoming dates and RSVP! 

1 thought on “How a campus Electrician creates UM-Dearborn’s very own Discovery Channel”

Comments are closed.