Moyer Nature Center
A new 1,800 square foot Moyer Nature Center has been funded and is scheduled for completion in fall 2017 within the Bluffton University Nature Preserve.
“This project will provide a very useful multi-purpose building for environmental science education within the northwest Ohio region,” Harder said. “Bluffton University is most grateful to Harriett Moyer, a Bluffton native, resident and alumna, for her passion for educating for environmental sustainability and for fully providing the funds needed for this new facility.”
The Moyer Nature Center’s name also recognizes Harriett’s late husband, Keith Moyer, a 1950 graduate of Bluffton, who shared her passion for environmental sustainability.
“The university’s 160 acre nature preserve, located immediately adjacent to the main campus, has long been a special place for appreciating the natural world and for learning,” Harder noted. “But it has lacked the physical program center to realize its full potential. This new structure will help facilitate environmental education opportunities for all ages in years to come.”
The Moyer Nature Center is an early manifestation of “Simply Innovate—the Campaign for Bluffton.” The building’s environmental science focus will complement the campaign’s signature project, the Austin E. Knowlton Science Center, which is scheduled to be open on the main campus in 2020.
Contractors began clearing the building site for the Moyer Nature Center late last month. The new 30 by 60 foot building will be constructed of metal, wood and cultured stone with a vaulted ceiling and pond views.
“Bluffton University is excited and pleased to partner with Harriett in building this new facility at the Nature Preserve,” Harder said. “The Moyer Nature Center will greatly enhance our shared vision for providing a distinctive learning resource and destination for both undergraduate and public education, including especially area youth.”
Located between the Nature Preserve’s pond and parking area, the facility will feature program space for mid-size groups supported by municipal water and fully-accessible restroom facilities. It will greatly enhance the usability of the Nature Preserve for field study in botany and environmental sciences, recreational leadership programming, and public education about the natural environment and sustainability.
Bluffton’s science faculty have strong commitments to helping students understand the linkages between scientific research, study and environmental sustainability. Bluffton’s general education program reflects this commitment through a number of courses including “The Biological World” and “Global Climate Change.” Through enhanced field study potential, the Moyer Nature Center will greatly enhance these courses and others in the biology major such as "Botany" and "General Ecology.”
With this permanent structure, Bluffton science faculty envision being able to establish long-term projects, not currently possible, including weather and climate studies, water quality monitoring in the pond and Riley Creek, and documentation and study of aquatic life, birds and mammals. These projects will provide opportunities for undergraduate research and educational programs for area youth.
"The generous gift of this building will allow the sciences at Bluffton to take full advantage of an amazing natural laboratory that is within easy walking distance of campus,” said Angela Montel, professor of biology and head of the university’s natural and applied sciences division. “We will be well positioned to offer students unique, collaborative learning experiences involving the natural world, as well as to raise awareness of the interconnections between living species, the environment and human impacts."
Bluffton’s academic programs in outdoor recreation and leadership will also greatly benefit from a permanent structure at the Nature Preserve. With space for meeting and storage, Bluffton’s programs will be able to collaborate with area schools, scouting troops, church youth groups and community recreational organizations to offer environmental education workshops to enhance experiential learning.
“We are beyond excited about this opportunity for our Health, Fitness and Sport Science Department,” said Tami Forbes, department chair. “With the availability of program and restroom facilities, we will be able to expand our educational opportunities in several different existing classes as well as expand our adventures in outdoor recreation program. It will truly be a destination location for the entire campus community.”
In the past, the College Cabin, located beyond the pond and across the Riley Creek, served as the primary location for outdoor education at the nature preserve. With the addition of the Moyer Nature Center, College Cabin, no longer usable, will be removed. The Moyer Nature Center will feature direct access to parking from the main entrance road, water and accessible restrooms all of which were unavailable at the College Cabin site.
“Many Bluffton alumni and local community members have fond memories from their learning experiences associated with the College Cabin,” said Harder. “My hope is that the Moyer Center will create new memories for future generations for many years to come.”
The Moyer Nature Center gift is an important contribution to the success of ”Simply Innovate—the Campaign for Bluffton” that, to date, has raised more than half of its $26 million overall fundraising goal, including more than 70% of the $14.5 million needed for construction of the Austin E. Knowlton Science Center. Other campaign goals include $5.5 million in annual support over five years; $5 million to strengthen Bluffton’s endowment with long-term support for student scholarships, faculty research and operations; and a $1 million innovation goal to support new academic program development, faculty-student research and interdisciplinary initiatives that enrich student learning.