Earlham College increasing access, visibility of nature reserve network  

Earlham College is increasing visibility for the public to access its vast network of nature reserves.

The Earlham Nature Reserve System (ENRS) is an initiative uniting multiple properties and more than 400 acres of land managed for diversity, sustainability, research, teaching and recreation. 

“Our goal is to increase the visibility and use of these properties so that we can better highlight and honor the land and those that have shaped it,” said Chris Smith, associate professor of biology. “We are so grateful to inherit such an incredible resource. This wouldn’t be possible without the dedication of former faculty and students, and donations from friends of the College.”

The ENRS is comprised of natural areas on the College’s back campus and other natural areas owned by the College across Wayne County. The properties include ponds, creeks, rivers, prairies, forests and recreational trails for hiking and biological study. Interactive maps of the publicly accessible properties, including locations for parking, is available by clicking here

Sedgwick’s Rock Preserve, a gift to the college from emerita biology faculty Carrolle and Millard Markle, is a 13-acre mixed woodland forest. This preserve is extensively used for experimental field projects, particularly on under-story vegetation. Every year ecological biology students use the stream to learn about aquatic ecology and field sampling.

Blooming firepink at Sedgwick’s Rock Preserve. (Photo by Ricardo Jalen Sleet)

Wildman Woods, a gift from Bill ’48 and Ruth Wildman, is a 40-acre forested property that contains sections of old-growth and second-growth upland and lowland forest. The woods have an extensive trail system, and is intensively used for course field trips and student/faculty collaborative research. The adjacent Iverson Woods, which was gifted to the College by John Iverson, professor emeritus of biology, contains an unspoiled stream valley and upland woodlands. Reller’s Woods, a gift from the Reller family, is a 28-acre preserve of mature forest. 

The 100-acre Test Study Area was gifted to the College by Fred Test, Iverson and emeritus professor Bill Buskirk ’66. The area contains three ephemeral wetlands, a 17-acre woodlot, a high-quality stream, a perennial drainage ditch, pasture and large agricultural areas destined for habitat restoration projects in the future. 

As part of the public launch of the ENRS, the College initiated a logo design competition last fall. Anna Mullin, an Earlham graduate from the Class of 2020, submitted the winning design and won a $500 prize. A $100 second prize was awarded to Carol Sexton, an artist who attended Earlham in the 1970s. 

Mullin’s winning design incorporates aspects of the environments that are found in the ENRS, from prairie to forest to creeks and ponds. Each environment is also represented by an animal—the deer rises through prairie grasses, a bird flying from the forest tree and a bullfrog sitting along a water’s edge. 

In addition to support from the Department of Biology, two alums are also contributing to the development and sustainability of the ENRS. Ricardo Jalen Sleet from the Class of 2018 and Thomas Hill from the Class of 2019 are working as property manager and assistant property manager, respectively.

For more information on the ENRS, contact Smith by calling (765) 983-1377 or email him at [email protected].

Media contact

Brian Zimmerman
Director of media relations

Email: [email protected]
Phone: 765.983.1256

We continue to monitor the effects of an industrial fire 1.1 miles from campus.
We continue to monitor the effects of an industrial fire 1.1 miles from campus.