Monmouth University will be developing the Monmouth Marine and Environmental Field Station on the banks of the Navesink River in partnership with the Borough of Rumson.
“The Monmouth Marine Environmental Field Station will allow the School of Science to offer direct access to a coastal ecology for our students and faculty,” said Steven Bachrach, Ph.D., Dean of the School of Science and chemistry professor. “We anticipate teaching marine and coastal ecology classes at this location, exploring the neighboring islands and river, and even into the ocean.”
According to Bachrach, it is expected that the station, which will be built on Rumson town property, will include an on-site boat dock, allowing classes to launch right from the station, and a marine laboratory with water tanks. The station will focus on faculty-led research, which students will be able to assist on.
The project, which has been in the works for over two years, was celebrated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday, Sept. 26.
“The field station will provide easy access to the Navesink-Shrewsbury rivers and the ocean – nature’s best living laboratories for our students to conduct hands-on field research,” said Tony MacDonald, the Director of the Urban Coast Institute (UCI), which was involved in the creation of the station. “It is important to note that in addition to marine science and research, the field station presents an opportunity to expand Monmouth STEM education efforts working with local school systems and the public.”
The University’s School of Education and School of Science will partner with the local school districts of Rumson and Fairhaven to develop curriculums focused in marine science and ecology, according to Bachrach.
“We expect to have their teachers spend time working with our faculty in developing new laboratories for their students, and lowing the K-12 students to come into the research labs,” said Bachrach. “Monmouth students can have opportunities to fulfill their student teaching through the Field Station working with the Rumson schools.” fulfill their student teaching through the Field Station working with the Rumson schools.”
“While Monmouth’s primary mission is the education of its students, the University also has a public service mission of assisting the local communities and residents of those communities that surround the campus,” said University President Grey Dimenna. “The University has an obligation to assist those communities and residents by being a source of education, culture and the arts. This project fulfills many of those goals by helping educationally, environmentally and otherwise.”
“By being such a good neighbor, we gain support for the University and improve the area in which the University exists,” Dimenna added.
MacDonald added that the site will be an “excellent alternative venue to conduct community outreach and policy development.”
According to MacDonald, the University’s Marine Environmental Biology and Policy (MEBP) program has been long interested in having a field station that was close to campus and had easy water access.
“UCI staff became aware that there was some underdeveloped property that was coming up for sale in Rumson near the town marina that might be an attractive site for a field station,” MacDonald said. “We went to tour the site and meet with town officials and representatives of the Monmouth Conservation Foundation.”
According to MacDonald, it was soon realized that building on the proposed conservation lands would be complicated and difficult. It was the town of Rumson who first raised the idea of developing the field station on town property at the marina. The nearby islands would also be conserved for research.
“I think this will mean a lot more field work and hands-on experience for future students and will also give the University, MEBP program, and the Urban Coast Institute a bit more recognition and esteem,” said Matthew Francis, a senior MEBP student. “Even though I’ll graduate before the field station is finished and running, I’m still excited to see it happen and to see what the program’s plans are in the future.”
“The key element to making the Monmouth Marine Environmental Field Station a reality will be the hard work that Monmouth and the Borough of Rumson will undertake now to raise the funds to construct and support the Field Station,” said Bachrach. “We are looking to the Monmouth University community and the Borough of Rumson to rally around this project.”
“I was quite struck by the genuine interest the Borough has in partnering with Monmouth University on the field station and so I quickly signed on and committed the School to pursue the project,” said Bachrach. “We moved one of our boats to the site over the summer, and are now working through the details of the building.”
“I think the ideas behind the project are good,” said senior political science student Marco Palladino, who is minoring in sustainability. “I went on a tour there for my Life’s A Beach class two summers ago, where we saw various locations and learned about community problems.”
“It’s important that we continue to use the resources we have as educational opportunities for local students and students in a career toward the environment,” Palladino added.
Faculty from the UCI have long used the boat ramp as a launch point for research in area water bodies such as the Navesink and Shrewsbury rivers, the Sandy Hook and Raritan bays, New York Harbor and the Atlantic Ocean. The University has already been granted access to the property to store vessels and other scientific equipment.
PHOTO COURTSEY of Anthony DePrimo