Ross Biological Reserve reveals plans for new outreach building

10-27-2014


While it was far away from Ross-Ade Stadium, the Department of Biological Sciences held a homecoming open house full of pancakes, hiking and a glimpse into the future of Ross Biological Reserve.

Alumni, students, faculty and community members spent Homecoming Day in Ross Reserve’s log cabin, hiking trails and experimental areas of the living lab located in the outskirts of Tippecanoe County. Biological Sciences faculty and graduate students regularly use the site for research. Faculty often take their undergraduate classes to the reserve as well.

After outdoor grilled pancakes and bacon, the main course was the reveal of a new “net zero” outreach center to be located towards the front of the reserve. A Living Building Challenge entrant, the unique structure will be one of the first of its kind to be affiliated with Purdue. The building will use solar energy as its main source for electricity. Construction materials will include all repurposed wood.

A presentation led by Prof. Kerry Rabenold and architect Ryan C. Justak showed open areas for learning and it detailed how heating, cooling and plumbing methods will give the space a low carbon footprint.

Aside from renewable energy, the learning center will be a destination for school classes of all levels. The Ross Reserve is already a popular field trip spot but the learning center will expand the reserve’s role in promoting the benefits of the outdoors.

Ross kids

Children show off their Ross the Flying Squirrel t-shirts.


The project aims to improve teaching, research, and particularly outreach at the Reserve by creating a meeting space communicating basic ecological principles and strategies for sustainability. The building will be a transparent model of energy efficiency and low-impact construction, as well as a launching site for exploration of the Reserve ecosystem.

“I just think being outside makes students comfortable in a different way than they are in a classroom,” explained Dr. Nancy Emery, assistant professor of Biological Sciences. “It breaks down boundaries. “

So far, Emery, Rabenold and the rest of the department have raised $175,000 of the needed $375,000 to complete the building.  Construction is expected to start in the spring. More information is available at the Ross Reserve website:  

If you would like to assist in the funding of the new Ross Reserve outreach building, please send donations or pledges to Jimmy Parker, Development, Department of Biological Sciences, Purdue University, 915 W. State St., West Lafayette, IN 47907 (checks to “Purdue Foundation: Ross Reserve Fund”).

Ross Hike

Biological Sciences Prof. Nancy Emery (center) leads a hike at Ross Biological Reserve.

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