Outdoor Learning Area

Outdoor Learning Area Logo

The goal of the Outdoor Learning Area (OLA) is to promote academic and recreational experiences on campus by cultivating sustainably designed green spaces.  It is an educational space where faculty and students can come for a relaxing lunch or study break, youth groups can learn about biodiversity and animal/plant interactions, volunteers can grow new plant species and remove invasive plant species, and visitors can harvest seeds to create a seed bank that can be used throughout the region. Students and faculty can also interact with the space through coursework and research.


Geological Park - 0.3 acres

A new addition in 2016, this circle area in front of New Science Facility features relocated boulders and Michigan-native trees that represent the geology and ecology of the region. It is currently used as a walkway from the staff parking lot to the science facilities, and in the future will be used as a research area for rock identification.

Native Plants Study Area - 1.5 acres

Located between the new dorms and New Science Facility, the oldest OLA is a jack pine forest and prairie field that is used as a place for student research, field experience and a living seed bank for the campus and community. Since its inception in 2009, over 20 native plant species were planted and biodiversity increased by over 33%.

Naturalized Area - 1 acre

Primarily utilized by the Center for Native American Studies, this mixture of turf grass, naturalized and Michigan-native plants will be used for plant species identification and comparison with the Native Plants Study Area. Classes gather and special events are held at a fire ring located in the red pine forest.