Christian Higher Education Since 1892

Ayers Field Station - History

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For many years, the Biology Department of Greenville College has provided course work in field related areas of the discipline.  In 1965 Professor John Ayers began offering a summer field biology course that took students from Illinois through Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and the Dakotas.  Within two or three years, this course became based in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Walton in Manitou Springs Colorado.  The Waltons donated five acres to the College and a lodge was constructed to house students and professors during these summer courses.  The last regular use of the Colorado Field Station for summer field biology classes was in the early 80's.  The station continued to be used to house the Colorado Semester Program until the spring of 1993. 

In the late 1980's and early 90's the Biology Department finalized the development of a new program leading to the Bachelor of Science degree with a major in Environmental Biology.  This major was submitted to and approved by the Division on March 6. 1993.  Academic Affairs Committee approval also came the spring of 1993.  The first students graduated with a major in Environmental Biology in 1994.   Because of the importance of field work to environmental biology the the Biology Department, through the Division of Mathematics, Computer & Natural Sciences, urged the Administration to consider relocating the field station facility from Colorado to a site within a more reasonable distance of campus.

When the Ayers Center was sold in 1998 for a net of $206,000, the Administration made the decision to use a portion of the funds to apply to the budget for that year.  There was also a commitment by that Administration to set aside $103,000 in an escrow account to be used for the purchase of property closer to campus so a college field station could be reestablished.  At that time, the Division went on record recommending that the entire $206,000.00 be applied toward the purchase of a field station close to campus.

In August 1999, The "Bingham farm" located on Ayers Road just under four miles from campus became available.  The College Administration was very sympathetic to its purchase but, because of the financial situation of the school, did not see a way of purchasing the property at that time.  With the encouragement of the College, Dr. & Mrs. William Ahern purchased the farm and an agreement between them and the College was signed.  This lease with option to buy agreement indicated that the College agreed to lease the property for the next five years with the intention of purchasing it sometime within that period.  The College acquired the property from the Aherns in 2001 for its original purchase price.

The purchase of this property began the development of a Natural History Reserve facility located a short distance from campus that is being developed to serve students in the sciences as well as the broader educational community.