Ribbon Cutting, Wild Game Dinner Highlight Ross Reservation Celebration

April 25, 2016

Emporia State University celebrated the renovation of the Environmental Education Center at Ross Natural History Reservation with the annual wild game dinner and a special ribbon cutting on Saturday, April 23.

Located northwest of Emporia, “The Ross” is one of eight natural areas owned by Emporia State University that are used for teaching, research and preservation. It is a 200-acre site of predominately native and restored tallgrass prairie, shrub land and woodland, including a stream, spring, ponds and other habitats. It includes experimental disturbance plots that can be used to study the effects of rangeland management such as mowing and burning.

“The Ross serves ESU students and faculty as an outdoor field site for investigations in ecology, zoology, botany, and earth sciences,” explained Dr. Bill Jensen, associate professor of biological sciences. “In addition to field trip exercises for coursework in these subject areas, graduate and undergraduate students and faculty regularly use the site for their independent research projects. Researchers from other universities (e.g., K-State, KU, Iowa State, Oklahoma State, UCLA) also use The Ross for cross-site investigations.”

The site was given to the university by F.B. and Rena G. Ross after the couple watched ESU faculty and students conduct research on their land, explained Dr. Brent Thomas, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

“They were impressed with what they saw,” Thomas said before the ribbon cutting. “I think their vision has been fulfilled.”

The Environmental Education Center at The Ross recently underwent a full renovation that upgraded classroom and laboratory space and added a kitchen area. The improvements include smart technology, making the space a fully functional, high-tech classroom, according to Thomas.

“The Ross Natural History Reservation Environmental Education Center serves as an important venue for coursework, processing of research samples in an on-site lab and as meeting space for departments and organizations at ESU,” said Jensen. “The natural ‘off-campus’ setting of The Ross offers a peaceful environment for such gatherings and accommodates planned or impromptu field trips to enhance the experience.”

The center has been used for retreats by ESU’s Honors College as well as meetings of professional societies and conservation organizations. Each summer, The Ross is used during a biology camp for elementary and middle school students. The area also has been used by Boy Scout troops.

“The Ross has touched many lives for the better, drawn students and faculty to ESU and has left fond memories with our alumni and other visitors,” added Jensen.

For more information on Emporia State’s natural areas: www.emporia.edu/naturalareas/

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