Students looking to experience and learn about nature in Oxford can drive 11 miles north of campus to the Ole Miss Field Station.
The field station houses an education facility for students and graduate level biology research. The widespread site is 740 acres that is home to diverse wildlife and vegetation.
It is common to see deer, snakes, beavers, birds, raccoons, coyotes, foxes, and turtles out at the field station. Recently, a night camera was installed by the front office. One night, the camera took pictures of a Mississippi bobcat when it came close.
The field station was originally a university fishery when it opened in 1947. For many years, it was used by private companies to raise and sell fish while converting some of the land into more uniform ponds.
It wasn’t until 1985 that Ole Miss bought the land back and created more ponds for research. Over the next decade, there were many construction projects to renovate the land.
The environment has many streams, ponds, and watersheds that offer a unique laboratory for researchers working for Ole Miss. There are now four graduate research students conducting experiments at the field station.
Dr. Ali Abbas is a senior research assistant trying to find an alternative for DEET in mosquito bite prevention. Dr. William Resetarits, who specializes in freshwater biology, has an experiment involving salamander tadpoles.
Ryan Harvey, 22, is a biology major and chemistry minor He has been working at the field station as a groundskeeper and research assistant since last March. Alex Mason, 22, is a banking and finance major who worked with Harvey.
They both are multifaceted assistants skilled in helping with the station’s upkeep and research experiments. They ensure that all waterways are flowing through intended pipes, clearing fallen trees, aiding researchers in infrastructure development, mowing the grass, etc.
Harvey said his favorite part about the job has been the relationships he has made there. “They truly care about what they do and want to make meaningful advancements in their fields,” he said.
Since Harvey and Mason both work outside, the Mississippi summer heat can be challenging. “There is a lot of outdoor work to be done that requires the ability to operate a large range of heavy machinery, from tractors and mowers to demolition and ditch digging equipment,” Mason said.
The field station holds certain annual events to engage young students. On Oct. 7, the field station held a Science Day event. Dr. Marjorie Holland, and many others, taught grade school students about biology through different science experiments. There were experiments about soil erosion control and conservation.
“We hope to expose these kids to the value of biological research and help them in understanding what our staff is working on,” Harvey said.
During the summer, the field station holds camps for youths, who learn tree identification, native bug species, water quality, etc. Students interact in a hands-on environment in the education center.
“The field station is a major asset to the university,” Mason said. “The facility has made it a goal that every student in Lafayette County should visit the facility at some point before their graduation.”
Since Harvey is a biology major, he feels that working in close association with real life researchers has helped him understand the value of research. “The faculty at the facility truly have a passion for their research,” he said. “These experiences have given me an interest in possibly pursuing a career in research.”
The Ole Miss Field Station is located at 15 County Road 2078 Oxford. It is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.