Field Station

Westminster College, New Wilmington, Pennsylvania

 

About the Field Station

 

The Field Station is a 50+-acre area east of the main campus, half a mile from Hoyt Science Center.  A foot bridge across the Little Neshannock Creek leads to the Frey Nature Trail, a half-mile trail which passes through woods, wetlands, and pastures on its way to the Nature Center.  The acreage for the Field Station was purchased by Westminster in 1964 and appropriated for use as an environmental laboratory in 1980.  Here are facilities for environmental studies and interactions for the college and community:

  • Nature Center: a retrofitted 1877 vintage Pennsylvania bank barn with two inside laboratories, research and equipment storage space.  Classes in biology, environmental science, art, literature, meet here throughout the year.  Children and adult groups from the community come for meetings and activities.

  • Frey Nature Trail: connects the main campus with the rest of the Field Station.  A boardwalk passes over a wetland and leads to an observation tower and a recreational area with a fire pit.   Additional side trails pass through shaded woods and wetlands.  All together, the Field Station has more than a mile of trails for hiking, bird watching, and other nature-related activities. 
  • Offutt Microforest: a five-acre reforested woodlot where 1,000 trees have been planted of species present before the 1795 European settlement took place.
  • Yard: includes a small grove of sugar maple trees (planted by Westminster pre-school children in 2004), benches and a picnic table open to all.  Three flags (United States, Westminster and Ecology) fly day and night and a memorial stone with an environmental quote on a plaque set the tone for the Field Station.
  • Arboretum: a teaching collection of trees that are arranged by taxonomic groups.
  • Nursery: for starting tree seedlings.
  • Composting operation: an open air system where over 13 tons of compostables from the college and community are processed each month throughout the year (including food waste from dining halls and autumn leaves from the Borough of New Wilmington);
  • Travis Weather Station: weather records have been maintained since 1983 and are currently transmitted electronically to the Nature Center.
  • Successional plots: every 12 years (1981, 1993 and 2005), an acre is plowed and then released to natural processes of change through time; these plots provide sites for studying the progression from pioneer vegetation to climax community.
  • Seasonal wetland:  the remains of a glacial ice-block or kettle where the ecological record of the past 10,000 years is preserved in the pollen deposits.
  • Sandy Edmiston Memorial Labyrinth: all are welcome to come, sit, walk, rest, and meditate.