The college recently constructed an eco-friendly classroom/lab building on its Long Lake property near Detroit Lakes, Minn., a donation to the college back in the 1970s. After years of renting some of the land for farming and then opening it up to college employees as recreational space, Concordia is focusing its efforts on turning the property into a multi-purpose research and retreat center for students, faculty and staff.
“It’s a great place for students to do research projects and for other classes to get out,” says biology professor Gerry VanAmburg.
Ellen Sobieck ’11 and Kyle Czech ’12 were the first to take their research skills to the Long Lake property. The students carefully mapped out the property’s plants, grasses and trees with GPS.
“This was a great opportunity to do research in the field, to get into science-related work immediately,” Czech says.
The students worked under the mentorship of Dr. Michelle Marko, an aquatic biologist, and Dr. Bryan Bishop, an entomologist, who were both involved in the development of the Long Lake property. Marko says she looks forward to a variety of student groups using the building and property, including those from the sciences, environmental studies, art, languages and more.
“It’s really exciting to see this property developing,” Marko says. “At less than one hour away, Long Lake provides a terrific opportunity for students and faculty to learn more about the natural world.”
The classroom building accommodates about 25 students. Designed to be environmentally friendly, it faces the lake for cool breezes, rests in the forest for shade and has high ceilings and large windows for natural light. In addition to hosting retreats, art and writing workshops and classroom discussions, the building enables science students to bring in samples from the land and water for examination. A pontoon boat and dock make water research even easier.
"This is our own little slice of heaven that we will be able to use and develop as educational and research tools for the Concordia and local communities,” Marko says. “We hope the vision for the classroom and property continue to grow and enrich our lives at Concordia.”