UPDATE: Taking the classroom to the forest

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By Joshua Ostrer

On April 25, President Stephen Ainlay announced that Union will be purchasing a 111.24 acre preserve in Niskayuna, as well as the Adirondack Research Library. But how will the campus be using the new gifts to the Union community?

The answer? “No specifics yet,” said Thomas Jewell, the Carl B. Jansen Professor of Engineering.

However, there are numerous benefits to the campus as a result of the acquisition. “The property can be used for field exercises and outings” said Jewell. “It’s in the center of the Adirondacks…all kinds of studies can be done in such a diverse ecosystem.”

Before confirming the purchase, all department heads were contacted as to whether they thought they could use the new acquisition. The response was yes. The chemistry department is also very excited about the new addition.

Within the forest reserve there is a lot of clean water, which Jansen, who has professional interests in both water resources and environmental engineering, was very excited about.

“You can do whatever in the classroom, but it’s a totally different environment there, there’s a different feel,” said Jewell

In terms of readiness, the property should be available by the upcoming fall term. However, it may not be used too heavily at the start, as teachers will have to get a feel for exactly how they want to use the reserve and library. “Now it’s up to us to figure out how to use it,” said Jewell.

The usage of the properties should expand as terms go on, as more teachers witness the true potential of the purchase. Additionally, there is speculation that the new property could eventually be used to develop an Adirondack studies major, which would utilize all the reserve has to offer. But “that might take a little while,” said Jewell.

In other words, environmental science and policy majors in the future will have a new area for fieldwork, and some of you might end up there next year.

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