A Strategic Development Plan for the Hope College Field Station
This award supports development of a strategic plan for the Hope College Nature Preserve, which consists of a 55-acre tract of unique dune forest near the shore of Lake Michigan with access to a neighboring, larger tract of land. Though the site is currently used for research and fieldwork in connection with coursework, the lack of infrastructure has impeded more extensive use. The planning effort will address three distinct but related themes: physical facilities, data acquisition and communications, and long-term financial needs. The 18-month planning process will include a conference that draws expertise from a large number of institutions that have successfully built and sustained field stations as part of their academic programs. The award will also sponsor visits by administrators from institutions with successful field stations, and visits by the PI and selected colleagues to field stations at other institutions to gain additional understanding of the infrastructural and administrative needs of successful small field stations. The aim of the process is development of a plan for enhancement of existing research and teaching programs, and for facilitation of collaborations in regional or possibly global initiatives in the study of environmental change.