November 05, 2008

Case Western Reserve University Farm holds open house for new lab facility

Renovations completed with Flora Stone Mather Alumnae gift

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University Farm Director Ana Locci invites the campus community to an open house on Thursday, November 6, from 2-4 p.m. Visitors can tour the new Mather Teaching Lab at Squire Valleevue Farm in the farm's main barn and learn about the possibilities the new space and farm offer for indoor/outdoor classes from many disciplines in and out of the sciences.

The $100,000 project was made possible with a very generous gift from the Flora Stone Mather Alumnae Association as part of its final gift to the university.

The new lab replaces one built in 1958 with a National Institute of Health grant to Darhl Foreman, associate professor emeritus in biology, who continues to work and support farm activities.

According to Locci, the facility, with its old lab benches and drafty windows in winter, had not seen any improvements since its construction.

After the farm administration assessed renovation possibilities, the lab was gutted this past summer by contractor Matt Miozzi. What followed was the installation of new flooring, windows, lab benches to accommodate as many as 24 students, a projection system tied to wireless communications and storage space for field equipment like microscopes, plant presses and microscopes.

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The renovations double the capacity for student stations in the lab, said Locci. It is expected that the renovated Mather Teaching Lab space will be used by over 950 students, faculty and teachers as a learning space.

Mark Willis, professor of biology, is among the first to use the Mather Lab for his entomology class.

"My entomology class began using the facility before it was completed," he said. "The farm is perfect for my class."

Willis' students were required to collect insect species from 45 families. The students had the fields, streams, ponds and woods for their outdoor lab and used the inside lab as the classroom hub for work.

"This new facility has great potential to be used in new ways," Willis said.

For his students it was just a few steps from the field to the lab, which he describes as equipped similar to the ones on campus.

Willis exemplifies what the farm committee wants to accomplish in their vision for the future of the farm.

"We now have the facilities, transportation and wireless network to make this an additional academic space for the campus community," Locci said.

The farm also provides space for an expanding biology department with new faculty members such as Michael Benard (evolutionary environmental biology), Ron Oldfield (fish and their environments) and Kurt Smemo (environmental studies) and in need of space.

In addition to the lab, the Flora Stone Mather Alumnae Association gave the farm $50,000 to provide a summer program for children from the Goodrich-Gannett Neighborhood Center in Cleveland. The summer program, started three years ago, enables 230 visits by the center's children during July. The center was originally started by philanthropist Flora Stone Mather to enrich the lives of Cleveland children and the gift continues the philanthropist's vision.

If interested in attending the open house at the farm, 37125 Fairmount Blvd., contact Patty Gregory at 368-0274.

For more information contact Susan Griffith, 216.368.1004.

Posted by: Kimyette Finley, November 5, 2008 12:02 PM | News Topics: Alumni, Community Outreach, Environment, Faculty, HeadlinesMain, Students, Support Case, Teaching, Technology, news

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