Granville students will soon be able to experience their very own version of the Bioreserve, thanks to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Licking Soil and Water Conservation District, Dawes Arboretum, Denison professors, and Mr. Reding’s AP Environmental Science class.

The Granville Intermediate School Land Lab is officially in progress since the groundbreaking ceremony at 2 p.m. on last Thursday, Nov. 7. Students gathered together in the company of teachers, community members, and high school students who helped bring the Lab to pass at the GIS campus north of campus, at 2025 Burg St.

Despite a crisp wind, all were optimistic and enthusiastic about the project. “We are so excited about the future of this project, and the partnership with Denison,” said Jeff Brown, Superintendent of Granville Schools.

Denison faculty and students will help foster the rich learning potential of the project through curriculum development and consultation, but the idea and execution of the project lie in the hands of the Granville students themselves.

The idea was conceived two years ago, according to Granville High School teacher Jim Reding, but this past year’s environmental studies class “picked up the land lab as their project and were the ones to make the initial plans and contacts with the partners.  It’s their vision!”

And quite a vision it is. They have participated in each stage of development, even pitching the idea to the school board. Amelia Anderson, a Granville High senior, described the project and the potential it has. “The beauty of this place is that it can be used for all studies… students can walk right into their own outdoor classroom.”

The Land Lab is created for three purposes, according to Reding. The first is “to create an outdoor learning environment for all students and the community.”  Granville Intermediate School students, in grades 4-6, will be joined in their studies by middle and high school students, and even Denison students in environmental studies and biology classes.

The second goal is “to create a balanced and thriving ecosystem to increase biodiversity and to help restore the natural history of Licking County and the Granville area.”

Many diverse habitats, including woodlands, wetlands, and grasslands, will be established on the 35-acre property. A mature bald eagle soared over the field during the groundbreaking, the first wild resident of the new land lab, and a suggestion of how successful this goal may be.

The final goal is “to create and strengthen productive partnerships with other individuals and organizations in the area,” which the project has already partially achieved. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is helping to fund the project, and the Licking County Soil and Water Conservation District will supply  construction assistance of the habitats.

According to Geoff Smith, a professor of biology at Denison, college faculty and students will also be involved in curriculum planning and research. “A group of Denison faculty will be working to design research projects at the GIS LandLab in coordination with teachers at Granville Schools.  The plan is to actively engage Granville students of all levels in these projects.  Our expectation is that Denison students may be involved in these collaborations, especially during the summer.”