A long-term collaboration between the Biology Department and construction students at Pittsburg State University will be celebrated next week with the official opening of the PSU Natural History Reserve Laboratory.

A long-term collaboration between the Biology Department and construction students at Pittsburg State University will be celebrated next week with the official opening of the PSU Natural History Reserve Laboratory.
The laboratory has been a work in progress for the past four years. With construction recently completed, a dedication ceremony for the lab will be held at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 1.
The 2,400-square-foot building sits on the university’s 80-acre nature reserve, which is home to a host of native wildlife and plants, as well as PSU’s Nature Reach stars, the raptors.
Last September, Westar Energy’s Green Team, HCC Contractors, and other area volunteers donated their time to build new cages for the birds.  The programs non-releasable birds come from rehabilitation centers across the state. An anonymous donation of $6,000 got the project rolling and when all the plans were finalized, the cages were built in less than a week.
A handful of PSU field biology majors work at the reserve each semester, caring for the raptors and studying the habitat. The old lab, which was termite-ridden, leaning on its foundation, and had no running water or electricity, was torn down. More than 100 construction engineering students worked to rebuild the lab over the past four years.
The first “green” facility constructed for PSU, the lab was built with ECO-BLOCK, an environmentally friendly foundation insulator. The lab also features an energy-saving heat pump, and recycled siding. The project was funded by the university and by a donation from the Sperry-Galligar Audubon Society.
“This has made a world of difference to our program and has made my job 1,000 times easier,” Delia Lister, director of Nature Reach, said. “To have running water, electricity, and a place to keep the birds warm is fantastic and the fact that it is green is the icing on the cake.”
In addition to the educational opportunities for Pitt State students, Nature Reach gives tours and classroom presentations to schoolchildren throughout the area during the school year.
Refreshments will be provided at the dedication, which is open to the public. Because parking is limited at the reserve, a carpool caravan will leave from Heckert Wells Hall at 3 p.m.
For more information, contact Lister at 620-235-4727 or at dalister@pittstate.edu.