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.

Summer 2020 Opportunities

The Hickory Scholars projects available in the summer of 2020 are not finalized yet. The projects below from previous years provide an idea of the types of research available. For more information email Jonathon Schramm (

  1. MAPS Bird Banding: part of a long-running research project at Merry Lea collecting data on the breeding success and survivorship of nesting birds. Work begins early in the summer and extends until early August with some weeks off throughout. Students working as Hickory Scholars on this project will pair it with other ornithological research on site.
  2. Agroecosystem Biogeochemistry: understanding the ways that our agricultural land uses alter flows of materials across the landscape are crucial for mitigating some of the effects of agricultural pollution. This project will establish some baseline data and collection protocols for long-term monitoring of soil, water and crop chemistry on the highly-diversified Merry Lea Sustainable Farm.
  3. Wetland Restoration: multiple wetlands are currently undergoing intensive restoration efforts at Merry Lea, and the diversity and health of those habitats going forward is an important question. This project will involve field work at each of the sites studying patterns of plant diversity in response to the restoration and subsequent potential re-invasion by exotic species.
  4. Prairie Grazers: offered in conjunction with GC’s Biology Department, this project is examining the market feasibility of intensively-grazed cattle on restored tallgrass prairie, both in terms of cattle health and indicators of prairie health.