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 2022, click here.

Summer 2020 Opportunities

The Hickory Scholars projects available in the summer of 2022 are summarized below, aand 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. ML Sustainable Farm – Signage: This project will be designing a range of interpretative signs for use at the Sustainable Farm, to serve a variety of visitor audiences. The design and content of the signs will be determined through a “stakeholder assessment” process to try and balance multiple interests in the farm.
  2. Lepidoptera Surveys: a variety of surveys of the lepidopteran (moths & butterflies) community of Merry Lea, both in frequently visited and more remote portions of the property. The importance of these animals for pollination, among other dynamics, makes a better understanding of their current populations very valuable.
  3. Blanding’s Turtle Monitoring: this state-endangered 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 those initial surveys and 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 the inaugural Linton Scholar, a special position honoring the legacy of wetland herpetologist Dr. Mary Linton at Merry Lea in the early 2000s.