Facilities and Resources
Through on-site research and engagement, students develop and refine skills in the areas of observation, data collection, experimentation, land management, and stewardship.
Ursinus College is set within the Perkiomen Watershed and is close to numerous natural areas in the Philadelphia Metropolitan area. From a range of on campus facilities to myriad field sites in the area, our students have access to a diverse learning perspectives and opportunities. Whether on campus or off, these sites provide experiential learning about climate, soil, insect, aquatic, terrestrial ecology; the use and management of diverse greenspaces in the form of the campus, nearby parks, conservation areas; and other environmental management facilities.
Whittaker Environmental Research Station (WERS)
The Robert and Shurley Knaefler Whittaker Environmental Research Station (WERS) is home to research on sustainable agriculture and associated land management practices. In Spring 2013, the departments of Environmental Studies and Biology were recipients of a generous donation from Ursinus almumni Donald Whittaker, Andrew Whittaker, and Elizabeth Magrann. Two separate land management systems make up the site. Experimental research is currently underway on several acres planted in perennial species used for livestock forage. Experimental land management in the form of a “food forest” is now underway on another acre. This system features perennial trees and shrubs planted for the variety of fruits, berries, and nuts they produce. This new food forest will grow to two acres in the coming years. These projects are intended to support student experiential learning, while developing insights for regional land managers and owners.
In addition to WERS, ENV students regularly spend time learning and working at the campus organic farm. In fact, ENV students were key actors in creating Ursinus’ organic farm, which serves as a resource for campus food, and designing the campus’ constructed wetland behind the baseball field.
Hunsberger Woods Natural Area
Students in ENV classes lead projects intended to enhance the habitat and improve local water quality in Hunsberger Woods, a borough owned park/ These efforts include the installation of rain gardens featuring native species of wetland plants as well as planting several hundred native tree and shrub species.
Riparian team works out details of their design concept.
Team members share thoughts on emerging design elements.
Visit to the Satomaya Homestead, where Sarah and Will Caverly introduced students to a residential permaculture experiment.
Diverse products harvested from the homestead.
Students explore the “yard”.
Picking some raspberries.
Will Caverly explains challenges of permaculture.
Sarah Caverly explains layout and design features.
Students get a sense of the yard-forest interface on the property.
Staff from the National Park Service at Hopewell Furnace explain key management goals of heirloom orchard.
Hopewell Furnace staff discuss challenges of managing heirloom orchard.
Discussing benefits of an heirloom orchard while enjoying some tasty apples.
Class photo at Hopewell Furnace NHS.
Appreciating the pollinator garden outside the Visitor Center at Hopewell Furnace NHS.
Students visit Penn Orchard at Penn Park on the University of Pennsylvania campus.
Robyn Mello from the Philadelphia Orchard Project explains the diversity of species found within patches.
This distinctive approach to gardening with perennial plants is just under the South Street bridge.
Passengers on Amtrak’s NE corridor get a view of a forest garden.
Another successful class field trip!
Ed Weaver welcomes students to his multi-generational family-owned orchard.
Weaver's Orchards features multiple types of fruit-related products, both fresh and processed.
A crate of recently harvested apples to be washed.
Weaver's Orchard includes educational spaces to learn about bees and pollination.
Students learn about berry production challenges.
A dragonfly inside the bird netting.
High tower tunnels to protect cherry trees from heavy summer rains.
Discussing management strategies within a kiwi berry block.
Darin Groff of Natural Lands explains the diverse habitat types at Binky Lee Preserve.
Heading to the preserve's riparian forest restoration site.
Learning about riparian restoration strategies.
Stopping to examine interpretive signage.
Thinking about multi-story canopy dynamics.
Thinking and talking about invasive species issues.
Inspiration for an outdoor classroom.
The high country and exquisite views.