Summer field research at Merry Lea

In this program, undergraduates at Goshen College gain experience in scholarly research during the summer break.

Hickory Scholars: Summer Research at Merry Lea

Merry Lea is a popular location for students doing summer research in a variety of disciplines, from nesting behaviors of songbirds to studies of the role of Traditional Ecological Knowledge in land conservation programs. Students can conduct research independently towards senior research projects, but there are also several paid research opportunities available each summer. Similar to the on-campus research program called Maple Scholars, researchers at Merry Lea can be part of the Hickory Scholars program each summer.

For brief descriptions of prior student projects, see here.

For instructions and the application for 2023, click here.

Summer 2023 Opportunities

The Hickory Scholars projects available in the summer of 2023 are summarized below, and you can see a complete description of each project’s goals & structure by clicking through. For more information about any of these email Jonathon Schramm (

  1. Reducing barber pole worm in rotationally-grazed sheep: This project will study and implement best practices for rotationally grazing sheep in the Merry Lea area in ways that reduce the incidence of barber pole worm infections (a roundworm parasite of sheep and goats). Lots of hands-on work with the sheep will be required!
  2. Success of pastured chickens using a variety of shelter models: Another applied agroecology project, this work will focus on field-rearing chickens on pasture using several different models of portable shelters (“chicken tractors”). A partner on this project is a local company looking to test a new product in realistic field settings.
  3. Blanding’s Turtle Monitoring: this state-endangered species had long been suspected to be living on Merry Lea, but surveys in the summer of 2021 confirmed that indeed multiple breeding-age adults were present. This work will build off of initial surveys in 2021 and 2022 using radio telemetry to expand our understanding of their population dynamics and the habitats in and around Merry Lea that they are relying on. This scholar will also be this year’s Linton Scholar, a special position honoring the legacy of wetland herpetologist Dr. Mary Linton at Merry Lea in the early 2000s.