Dyson College Nature Center
The Nature Center is located on Pace University’s Pleasantville campus and is open to Pace students, staff, faculty, and the Pleasantville community.
The Nature Center includes an organic vegetable garden, an outdoor pavilion (equipped with WiFfi), beekeeping apiary, pollinator garden and wetlands trail. The Center hosts several wellbeing programs for Pace staff, including gardening, yoga and tai chi held in the outdoor pavilion and nature trail walks. The Center is also available to Pace faculty to utilize in their research and teaching.
Pleasantville Organic Vegetable Garden
The Pleasantville Organic Vegetable Garden serves as an experimental and demonstration area utilizing techniques in harmony with the natural environment. Different methods are employed in the garden, including “Square Foot Gardening,” “Straw Bale Gardening,” “Companion Planting,” and growing in raised beds. This spring, because of Covid-19, gardening was very limited. Typically, Nature Center staff, along with student Garden Keepers, grow over 700 plants in the hoop house, most of which are transplanted into the garden. The 2021 season plans include growing plants to be sent to Pace’s New York City campus gardens. Students will also be expanding the educational components of the garden by creating signs and small plant identification plaques that will enable visitors to learn about the garden and some of the growing techniques employed.
During spring and summer, staff and faculty attended an informal “lunchtime” get together to share gardening experiences and work out gardening problems. After meeting for a cup of coffee in the Environmental House conference room, members would walk through the Nature Center’s organic garden to observe different growing techniques and sometimes even take home fresh vegetables.
The Center has been actively involved in the University’s Health and Wellness efforts, providing programs for students, faculty and staff throughout the year. Some of the offerings include nature walks on the woodland trails, gardening projects and other stress reducing events. Due to the Center’s aesthetic attributes, it is regarded as a natural “oasis” by students, providing a quiet place to study, meet with friends, or relax by getting away from the everyday rigors of their busy lives.
Angelo Spillo, Director of the Center, teaches two Environmental Studies classes each semester. The classes titled “Naturalists” utilize the Center by combining classroom lectures with experiential learning, incorporating its gardens and trails. For example, in the past, students have spent time in the classroom learning about honeybees, and followed up by a visit to the Center’s apiary.
The Nature Center was a major attraction during Communiversity Day, where local community members were invited to attend various programs at Pace’s Pleasantville campus.
September 2019 | Pleasantville campus
Each spring, Nature Center staff sponsor Earth Month programs, offering over 25 events during the month of April, that are a combination of academic, recreational, celebratory, and informational programs. Some of the highlights include bee keeping presentations, poetry readings, classroom lectures, nature walks, and tree planting ceremonies.
April | Pleasantville campus
Volunteering at the Nature Center
The Nature Center serves as a fun opportunity for students to volunteer and earn community service hours. On Pace Makes a Difference Day, student volunteers spent the day adding wood chips to the wetlands nature trail, washing out plant trays to make ready for spring planting, and moving soil into the pasture. Each year, 10 or more students typically achieve their community service requirements by volunteering in the Nature Center. Often, working alongside other students results in developing lasting friendships.
Working at the Nature Center
The Center employs a small group of students throughout the year. They are Garden Keepers, taking care of the organic vegetable garden. They are the work force that keeps the Nature Center running and an important source of income to the students.