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The Metzger Nature Center: An outdoor laboratory

Science laboratories are brightly lit, sterile enclosures that insulate the scientist from the real world. Right?

Not at Ohio Northern University’s Metzger Nature Center. Operated by ONU’s Department of Biological & Allied Health Sciences, this 70-acre farm in the rolling hills of Tuscarawas County offers a diverse laboratory for ONU’s biological science students. It includes a century-old farmhouse, a barn and the Robert C. Bolon Academic Field Study Center.

Located 160 miles east of Ada near Stone Creek, Ohio, the nature center’s grounds include natural springs, streams, sandstone gulleys, mixed mesophytic forests and fields. The center also is an active arboretum with vegetation and topography typical of western Appalachia, a vivid contrast to Ada’s flat, glaciated open spaces. Plants and animals abound, making a perfect field school for long-term research, in-depth observations and specimen collection. Classes in natural history, ichthyology (fish), ornithology (birds), animal behavior, entomology (insects) and science education all use the facility, and ONU’s Archeology Field School conducts digs on the site.

The center’s 8,000-square-foot Bolon Hall offers overnight accommodations for 16 and meal service for as many as 24. In addition to students in the biological sciences, the facility also hosts specialized weekend classes in the social sciences, and conservation and nature groups such as ONU’s Outdoors Cub.

The center lends itself to meetings and retreat groups such as the Joint Engineering Council, biological and allied health science faculty, Ohio College Registrars Association, Student Senate, student affairs staff and University chapel groups.

Nature Center caretaker Carol King and her husband, Wayne, have looked after the center since it was established 19 years ago. She says “the students are great,” and they appreciate the field experience the center offers. Some admit that they selected a class just because it included time at the nature center.

The nature center is available to ONU students through the Hillier Family Charitable Trust and the efforts of the late Henry L. Metzger, a 1941 ONU graduate. Along with trustees Robert Jagger, Robert C. Bolon, Floyd Blaine and Robert Wyatt, Metzger created a close association with ONU that today offers students an exceptional learning environment.

To learn more about the Metzger Nature Center, contact the Department of Biological & Allied Health Sciences at (419) 772-2325