Katharine Ordway Natural History Study Area
Jerald J. Dosch
Visiting Assistant Professor, Biology
9550 Inver Grove Trail
Inver Grove Heights, MN 55076
The Future of Ordway
Excerpts from a history written by Kelly M. Paulson in 2001 as her Honors Project
Ordway needs a clear vision to move into the future, and this can most effectively come from an individual or group of individuals who are passionate and willing to implement this vision. It seems that Christman was definitely one-of-a-kind, but perhaps improving the salary and living facilities for the Assistant Director could encourage someone to remain in that position for longer than a few years at a time, since the quick turnover has made it difficult for even the most focused Assistant Directors to really implement their visions.
A New Vision for the Future
The August 1998 draft of “A Vision for Ordway” outlines Ordway’s two-pronged mission and compares it to the vision in the 1960’s. It says that “the moment is ripe for action on the part of Macalester,” and certainly makes a compelling case for the renewal of KONHSA into the 21st century. The strategic plan for Ordway’s future, written by Romero and Ebaugh, mainly calls for the renewal of KONHSA as an area of multiple uses, both within and without Macalester College, since it has been used almost exclusively by the Biology Department excepting a few trips by Geology and Geography classes in recent years.
Education in the Future
From the Environmental Studies viewpoint, Romero said,
We would like to use [KONHSA] as a tool to attract more minorities into the program. Traditionally, Environmental Studies and Science has had a very poor minority representation, that is largely cultural by the fact that traditionally, environmental issues are dominated by middle class, white, suburban Americans. And many of the inner-city kids don’t have exposure to nature, like visiting a National Park.
Therefore, he and Ebaugh have been considering the idea of a summer camp at Ordway for inner-city youth, which would not only expose them to Environmental Studies, but could ultimately lead some of those students to ultimately come to Macalester’s program. This would require additional infrastructural improvements but, this sort of initiative would be a wonderful vehicle for expressing Macalester’s commitment to the community and service therein.
The Ordway building itself could also prove an interesting testing ground for the principles of “green architecture,” as exemplified by Oberlin College. Hornbach felt that since the building obviously will require a good deal of remodeling within the next several years, it might as well become a sort of experiment in itself. Davis echoed this idea, postulating that it would be wonderful to use Ordway as a demonstration area for
…other things, such as alternative energy and power sources, like the building itself, up there on a hill, you can get lots of wind, as much sunshine as you can get up here…it’s kind of facing south, so as much sun as we get it could really capitalize on it…That would be one way to get Physics more involved in the Environmental Studies Program.
Research in the Future
Romero believes that Ordway could be very useful for research, but its potential hasn’t been tapped. He directed a research project on quaking aspen at Ordway, and is excited about the unique possibilities presented by the “peninsula, which ecologically speaking is an island” that extends into River Lake and has rarely been ventured onto. “I can think of a myriad of things” to research at Ordway, Romero said, suggesting that it should be more publicized in order to find researchers who would like to work there.
Funding in the Future
Romero has spoken with Ford Nicholson, a descendant of Katharine Ordway and a current Trustee of Macalester, regarding continuing funding for the area, as well as the possibility of a sort of Ordway family reunion at Ordway to celebrate the life and work of Katharine Ordway.
Elizabeth Svenson mentioned that restoring a decent endowment for Ordway would be useful from a financial standpoint, but also as a display of commitment from Macalester. The possibility of outside grants to support educational, research, and service missions at Ordway is a great resource; however, the infrastructure must be improved before these avenues can be lucrative.