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Opening of Field Station Celebrates Simple Gifts at Former Shaker Farm


SLIDE SHOW: The opening of the Cincinnati Center for Field Studies at Miami Whitewater Forest was celebrated by nearly a hundred guests, UC faculty and students — today’s and tomorrow's.

Date: 10/5/2008 12:00:00 AM
By: Wendy Beckman
Phone: (513) 556-1826
Photos By: Dottie Stover, photojournalist

UC ingot   A multidisciplinary and multigenerational crowd gathered at a former Shaker Farm in Miami Whitewater Forest to celebrate the opening of the Cincinnati Center for Field Studies (CCFS), a research station partnership between the University of Cincinnati and the Hamilton County Park District.
McMicken students explained current research through poster displays in one room while another room contained models by DAAP students showing future possibilities.
McMicken students explained current research through poster displays in one room while another room contained models by DAAP students showing future possibilities.

Senior Vice President and Provost Tony Perzigian opened the proceedings, thanking the donors for their support and their vote of confidence. Perzigian also noted that the field station was a major step forward in the university’s commitment to science education and the STEMM (science, technology, engineering, math and medicine) disciplines.

Valerie Hardcastle, dean of the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences, expressed her deep appreciation to David Lentz. Lentz was hired by the McMicken College for the express purpose of being the executive director of the Cincinnati Center for Field Studies. Hardcastle said that she couldn’t imagine a better person for job, a man whom Provost Perzigian had previously described as a “visionary leader.”

“He is a kind, gentlemanly, upright, forthright bulldog,” she said.

Lentz has said that he sees the Center for Field Studies as “an important component of our ability to train the next generation of environmental scientists and draw in research funds.”

CCFS Director David Lentz and HCPD Director Jack Sutton unveiled the sign, which will be posted on Oxford Road.
CCFS Director David Lentz and HCPD Director Jack Sutton unveiled the sign, which will be posted on Oxford Road.

UC signed a 35-year lease with HCPD earlier this year. The field station will be the site of research for UC faculty and students and will be used as a stepping stone for students wanting to become environmental researchers and scientists. It will provide opportunities to students from preschool through high school, and from undergrads through graduate school.

Saturday’s open house started with words of welcome and concluded with a tour of the barns and farmhouse, where posters of already-ongoing student research were on display. Also in the farmhouse were posters and 3D models showing future building concept models by architectural students from UC’s top-ranked College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning.

Jack Sutton, director of the Hamilton County Park District, noted what a tremendous occasion the opening was for Hamilton County. He welcomed the guests, including Chris Dole, candidate for Hamilton County Commissioner. The property, acquired 19 years earlier, will now further enhance the mission of the HCPD: to protect and preserve natural resources.

John and Georgia Court have established a center for Ohio Valley archaeology.
John and Georgia Court have established a center for Ohio Valley archaeology.

Besides announcing that the CCFS is now officially open, the message of the day was also one of thanks. Three donors were thanked — one posthumously. The donors chose trees, which were planted in their honor prior to the ceremony.

John and Georgia Court chose a sugar maple for their tree. Their gift was made to build the John C. Court Archeological Research Facility at the field station. Their donation will build a new archeology lab space, as well as an archival space for research and public displays.

Also choosing a sugar maple was Cincinnatian Elizabeth Martin, who described herself as a “Golden Bearcat — which as you know,” she said, “is a synonym for ‘old fossil.’”

Martin explained to the audience that she chose a sugar maple for its shape and for its golden leaves.

Donor Liz Martin compared the cycles of the sugar maple to the potential of the students who would study at the center.
Donor Liz Martin compared the cycles of the sugar maple to the potential of the students who would study at the center.

“When the leaves are on the tree, you see the shape and potential and growth within its heart,” she said. “But when the leaves are gone, the structure becomes clearer. The leaves return and you say ‘aha!’ Like the tree, you students are doing your experiments, you see the potential, you see the structure. And with the sugar maple, then the buds come out in the spring and the process starts all over again with new branches, new structure.”

She smiled and concluded, talking to all the people in attendance, but especially the UC students, saying, “I wish you extreme good luck — and I hope you get an A on the pop quiz on this presentation!”

The third gift was from long-time UC benefactor Martha Tuttle, who died two weeks before the CCFS opening. She had already chosen the white oak, however, and wanted it to be planted in memory of her father, Harris Benedict, the first head of UC’s botany department and 1927 president of the Ohio Academy of Sciences.

Years ago, Tuttle had also donated a generous planning grant to support UC faculty visits to several field stations to observe operations and to search for a CCFS director. Tuttle recently told CCFS Executive Director David Lentz that she was inspired to support the field station by two UC scholars, biologists George Uetz and Guy Cameron.

Once and future scientists gathered at the opening of the Cincinnati Center for Field Studies at Miami Whitewater Forest.
Once and future scientists gathered at the opening of the Cincinnati Center for Field Studies at Miami Whitewater Forest.

The field station will be a living lab for students, teachers and scientists to conduct hands-on research in biological science, anthropology, geography, archeology, geology and environmental studies. But the research won’t stop there, as Sandra Degen, UC vice president of research, noted in her remarks.

“When the word catches on, I’m sure we’re going to have engineers out here and life scientists out here,” she said. Degen thanked Hamilton County Park District Director Jack Sutton, saying that she especially appreciates the opportunity for undergraduates to conduct research at a true field station.

“I was given the opportunity to do research at a field station,” she told the crowd. “That opportunity changed my life.”

As many speakers noted in their remarks, the weather for the open house couldn’t have been better and showed nature in its glory.

Vice President Degen concluded her remarks by saying that as an eastsider, she didn’t often get to sample Miami Whitewater Forest and had packed a change of clothes for the occasion.

“I’m going hiking,” she said. “And I hope you join me!”

Fred Shaw, a Native American 'Olammapise' told how Grandma Turtle carries us all on her back so we must help her by taking care of the earth.
Fred Shaw, a Native American 'Olammapise' told how Grandma Turtle carries us all on her back so we must help her by taking care of the earth.

During the day’s celebration, thanks were also given to “Grandma Turtle” through the gifts of Native American Olammapise Fred Shaw, a story teller whose name translates to “he talks as he flies” — or Canada goose.

Shaw spoke words of welcome in the Algonquin tongue, saying, “It is an honor to be here.”

“The earth is alive,” he said. “You must help me make it what it should be.”

Related stories:

SATURDAY: UC Field Station Opening Honors Nature, History — and the Future

View the SLIDE SHOW!