Rice Creek Field Station receives grant increase

The Rice Creek Field Station recently saw an increase to an existing grant, allowing them to increase services for public education, student research and weekend programs.

This grant, administered by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, has increased to $175,000 over a five-year term. Before the increase, the grant gave the station $25,000 per year for three years, amounting to $75,000 in total.

Known as the Zoos, Botanical Gardens and Aquariums (ZBGA) grant, it is given to educational institutions with a vested interest in the natural heritage of New York State.

“The ZBGA program provides the stimulus to develop educational, cultural and recreational programs interpreting out natural heritage as well as support for the permanent collections of eligible institutions,” according to New York State’s Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation website.

The grant is only available to public or nonprofit institutions that maintain collections of natural specimens with a focus on public programs and education.

“It is actually for weekend [activities], the student curators and for supplies related to public education, for supplies for animal specimens, books and field guides,” said Kamal Mohamed, director of Rice Creek Field Station and an Oswego State professor.

A big part of the grant lies with its support of the student curators. Students tasked with maintaining the specimens that Rice Creek collects and stores for student research.

One of these curators, Corrine Monaco, has been a student curator since the fall 2016 semester. 

“The difference between this semester and last is that now the grant, instead of the state, pays for student curators like me,” Monaco said.

These curators are there to assist with the upkeep of the collections and do not serve as research assistants.

“While I do not directly assist in any research, students can use these collections for their own research projects,” Monaco said.

Another aspect of the grant increase is the field station’s maintenance during the hours it is open.

“They help us keep the field station open on Saturdays, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.,” said Mohamed.

First opened in 1966, the field station began receiving this grant in the mid-1980s. The current building, renovated in 2012, currently houses classrooms, offices and research labs, as well as the collections the student curators are tasked with maintaining.

The field station undergoes a process of reapplication every five years to continue receiving this grant. The majority of the grants support goes to the collection maintenance aspect of the grant, with the other uses being secondary.

“The grant has allowed us to buy more materials so that we can better preserve our specimen,” Monaco said.