Saturday, October 18, 2014

Art @ Cedar Point Biological Station, case study #2

Cedar Point Biological Station is a part of the University of Nebraska Lincoln's School of Biological Sciences.  We are located on the western high plains about 3 hours drive east of Denver.

The station, originally as Cedar Point Ranch, hosted Girlscout events from about 1949 to 1971.  The owners of Cedar Point Ranch, the Gainesforth family, had a multi-generational interest in the outdoor experience and funded, with support from Mrs. Robert Goodall, a designed camp in 1960: a two story lodge, an infirmary, a directors cabin, 10 cabins for scouts and two central wash houses.

For various reasons, by 1971 the Girlscouts were no longer using the Goodall Cedar Point Camp and early in 1975, UNL initially leased the site for advanced field based biology courses and site based research.  CPBS has been very faithful to its original mission and for the past 39 years we have offered 6 to 10 courses in advanced biology as well as hosted up to a dozen researchers each summer.

This is a simple narrative about the Art @ CPBS program which in my view has been wildly successful. My primary job being day to day management of the station as the associate director.

After several examples of field stations supporting art and art education that were presented at the OBFS annual meetings, I asked one of our regular users why CPBS hasn't partnered or hosted something art based each summer.  This user, the partner of one of our just retired faculty, had spent at least part of every previous 37 summers at the station and nearly as long as the education director at the UNL Sheldon Museum of Art .

Rather than explain or excuse the past she put me in touch with one faculty member in the department of Art and Art History.  The art faculty were immediately interested and in fact only agreed to partner if we would agree to at least a 5 year effort. How does one turn that sort of response down?

This past summer 2014 we offered PHOT 161, a introduction to digital photography for non-art majors, as 3 UNL credits in two weeks at the station.  The course enrolled 13 students.  The art faculty also wanted to do some sort of resident artist program.  We had several applicants and offered a one or two week resident experience to 5 of them.

I am very much looking forward to summer 2015, as the art faculty have all said this first summer was just a place holder and their real effort will start in 2015.

Lesson here; if you want something just ask people around you.  Their answer may just be a quick and easy path to what you need.

more to come...

Jon Garbisch associate director, CPBS

For more information:
Our website:
shared webpage with the department of Art and Art History


  1. This is excellent, Jon--thanks for posting! It's great how the different departments just embraced you with both arms. Seems like they were hungry for something like this, and it certainly increases your relevance on campus.

    Good job!

  2. Yes, the partnership is perhaps the most exciting part. I really like this quote from the Art & Art History department chair in their alumni newsletter:

    "We're always looking for new capabilities, new knowledge that we can provide for our students," said Pinnell. "We could never afford to open our own facility in western Nebraska, but we can take advantage of a facility that already exists and add our program to theirs."

    This gives them access to a part of Nebraska 5 hours drive from main campus and this is clearly a partnership that benefits both departments.

    Jon G