BIOLOGY

    

The Barbara A. Beiser  

Field Station

 

 

 

Ralph Voorhees - A Remembrance

Field Station Dedication

I only met Ralph Voorhees once, in 2007 when he came out for the dedication of the field station. That and a few phone calls are perhaps not enough to build an impression, but by any measure Ralph was not an ordinary man. I took away several things from those brief encounters: his fierce love for Barbara, his generous spirit, his demand for excellence. Ralph wanted to know how his gift would be used, what the students would be doing there, how we planned to develop it in the future. Over the course of the day there were several times when the emotion of the day was apparent on his face, but when he got out to the site he relaxed. We struggled over the rough terrain - no road then - and Ralph seemed to come into his own.

We heard of his passing early this year, and it was a bit of a blow. Though I knew his health had not been good I was looking forward to sending him a copy of the poster we had just prepared, the first All-Taxa-Biotic Inventory (ATBI) of the site, listing 439 species. We've had a number of good student projects centered out there, and the research was just hitting its stride.

I wish that Ralph had been able to return and accompany a class into the field and watch their excitement when they discover something interesting. I wanted him to hear the excitement of a city kid seeing a wild turkey for the first time. I think he would have enjoyed watching college kids take a day off their studies, athletics and other activities to shovel silt or clear briars from a trail and repair afterwards to the nearby orchard for some well-earned cider.

Every time we take a new group of students to the station I tell the story of Ralph and Barbara and how the station came to be there. I think it's important for the students to know that these things don't just happen; that perfect strangers have fretted over their education and done what they could to make it better. I hope that a little bit of Ralph and Barbara's philanthropic spirit is planted, even as a small seed at this time. Our students have such generous hearts and are so willing to volunteer that I'm certain this is fertile ground and that the legacy started by Ralph and Barbara here will take root and grow hundreds of times over with each succeeding generation of students.

I really regret that on the dedication day we weren't able to get to the top of the hill. We didn't have a path up there yet, and it's a strenuous hike that even winds our college athletes. But there is a place up there, just about the highest place on the property that I've always called "Ralph's Roost". It has just about the only view given all the trees, and it is a place of quiet solemnity and grace, a deserved reward for a hard hike. I wish Ralph could have seen that place again. I know we'll always think of him and Barbara whenever we're up there.

Ralph's Roost

Ralph's Roost, Barbara A. Beiser Field Station

Station Home


Beiser Field Station - Zoology Class

Beiser Field Station - Trail Map

 

Aerial view of the field station.  SR 26 runs east-west just out of the top of the frame; the Ohio River similarly runs southwest below the frame.  The red squares approximate the property boundaries.  

 

 

 

Updated 01/02/09 by DMC