Academic Opportunities

Tracing its roots back to 1937, the Student Association, Inc. continues to support and assist the students of California University in educational process, most recently through the ongoing development of the SAI Farm. The variety of diverse plant and wildlife throughout the 94 acres provides students with an abundance of hands on learning opportunities outside of the classroom. Students are able to gain valuable experiences in their chosen field of study locally right in California University's back yard.

Academic Initiatives

The Geology Department has partnered with the Pittsburgh Geological Society to host its annual drilling workshop. Currently the partnership is in the third year of a several year engagement. Each year a couple wells are drilled at varying depths in the low lying water table of the property. Eventually, when the initiative is completed there will be many wells resulting in a Well Field. Beyond the education received the day of the event, the wells are used many times by classes throughout the academic year for soil and water sampling.

Dr. Fredrick conducted a research project studying fluctuations in wetland temperatures. Approx. 6-10 piezometers were placed with data loggers to collect the water level and temperatures. This data was used to construct and calibrate a groundwater model for students to work with. Dr. Fredrick along with several students are in process of implementing a Weir, which is essentially a very small dam. The purpose is for hands on conducting flow control studies which can be conducted locally on a small scale on the natural spring running through the SAI Farm.

SAI partnered with the campus food service provider to establish a local sustainability garden. The garden is managed by a group of students who learn methods for preparing the garden seasonally, which produce to produce in varying seasons. All produce generated by the garden is served in our dining facilities on campus.

Professor Sarah Meiss with several students erected two spiral herb gardens reusing excess bricks from the development of the SAI Farmhouse renovation.

The Wildlife Society Club in partnership with Game Commission installed Bluebird Boxes. Bluebirds are the earliest return migratory each spring. Due to their "Cavity" style nesting, they have huge limitations on where they can nest.

Student Kaitlyn Kelly performed her Honors Thesis project at the SAI Farm. She placed small mammal live traps throughout the various parcels of the SAI Farm to study species diversity in each of the habitats. All animals that were successfully trapped were released without harm.

Student Nicholas Glover conducted an undergraduate research project, Line Transect Survey for Fall Migrant Birds. The purpose of the study was to migration arrival and departure dates of birds species at the SAI Farm. The study was conducted three days a week at sunrise from early June through last week in August.

Dr. Bocetti and Dr. Tebbit in partnership with The Wildlife Society have hosted annual BIOBLITZ event where they spend the day exploring the property teaching students how to survey for wildflowers, trees, insects, mammals, birds, etc..

Dr. Nass and the Department of Anthropology hosted a Mock Crime Scene where plastic skeletons were buried and left for several months. The students were presented an opportunity to use ground penetrating sonar equipment to find the site and recover the skeletons.

Ongoing number of students each year from the Biological and Environmental Science Department conduct Environmental Application of GIS at the property. Their project provides them the opportunity to gain experience mapping current boundaries and structures. Mapping soil, contour lines, elevations and water tables. After this information is gathered in the field, they can then take it back to the classroom for use in ArcGIS software for further analysis.

Parks and Recreation students designed and implemented a full 18 hole Disc Golf Course at the property. The course covers over 3 miles in distance and takes you through out the property.

Students enrolled in the Parks and Recreation Planning major, under the guidance of Dr. Confer, have been involved with the ongoing designing and implementation of a hiking trail system through the SAI Farm.

Professor Kelley Flaherty donated a small greenhouse to SAI Farm for future use with various academic initiatives.

Annually, Dr. Fredrick and the Geology Club perform a service project with Adopt-A-Highway to clean East Malden Drive and parts of Route 88 along the frontage of the SAI Farm. A sign has been placed near the intersection of the two showing their sponsorship.

Under the direction of our Student Activities coordinator, Melisa Dunn, a group of students perform an annual Earth Day service project at the farm preparing the flower beds and other areas for spring landscaping.

The Office of Veterans Affairs hosted the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge Testing. They utilized the Cross Country Course for a portion of their 7 mile run component of the event.

SAI has established an ongoing partnership for several projects at the SAI Farm. For TEAC, these projects are both learning opportunities and club fundraisers. Some projects to date are:

  • 20 picnic tables for the newly constructed pavilion
  • Benches
  • Hiking Trail signage
  • Directional signage for newly constructed parking lot, Farmhouse drop off and ADA parking