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History of the field stations

Green Wing Environmental Laboratory

In 1991, Augustana was provided an opportunity to purchase a 420 acre property that had been used as a summer Bible Camp from 1968 to 1988.  The camp was owned by a consortium of churches in the area and was used for children's religious education.  The College purchased the property from the ELCA and began at once to alter it for teaching and research purposes.

There are two major buildings on the site.  The main lodge is a large building that includes a classroom, research space, fireplace, kitchen, bedrooms, bathrooms, and storage space.  It was recently renovated.  Another building (the "Canteen") serves as a small dormitory that can house ten students.  This building is air conditioned.

In late fall 1992, a 20 acre weedy field near the main lodge was plowed in preparation for establishing a tall grass prairie.  Locally produced prairie seed was scattered in the spring of 1993, and within two years prairie plants were clearly becoming established.  Today the Kenneth and Florence Johnson Prairie (named for a patron of the field stations) is a robust prairie dominated by numerous species of grasses and forbs as well as vertebrates and insects.  To retain the grassland character of the Johnson Prairie, a program of regular burn treatments is employed to maintain its vigor.

Classes have been taught at Green Wing since 1995, and currently average two classes per summer.  These have included local flora, entomology, research methods and aquatic biology.

Collinson Ecological Preserve

In 1992 Augustana acquired a 67 acre upland forest parcel in Milan, Ill., from the Illinois Office of the Nature Conservancy.  The property includes two small, high quality hill prairies.  No buildings exist on the property and none are needed for lodging since the property is 8 miles from campus.  Across Mill Creek, the western border of the property, is the Collinson Stone Quarry whose generosity made possible our purchase of this field station from the Nature Conservancy.  The property had been a gift of the Budelier family of Milan to the Nature Conservancy in 1991.

Numerous Augustana classes in field biology have made use of the habitats of this preserve.  A preliminary analysis of the forest structure has been completed.

Beling Ecological Preserve

On the north shore of the Rock River, at the boundary of Moline and Rock Island, lies 110 acres of riparian and marsh habitat including the 15 acre William Carr Island.  This property was a gift of the Beling Family Estate to Augustana College in 1998.  As a wholly wetland site, this field station complements the upland habitats of the other two field stations.

In 2006, construction of a major bridge from Milan to Rock Island over the Rock River will be completed.  This construction has had a significant impact on the Beling preserve.  One set of support pillars for the bridge is embedded at the western end of Carr Island and the north end of the bridge occupies about 10 acres of the field station.  Nevertheless, the teaching and research potential of the property remains.

Field biology labs have been taught at this preserve and some aquatic and botanical research has been completed.