Merry Lea dedicates finished green buildings on April 8

WOLF LAKE, Ind. – A windmill spins in the breeze atop its hundred-foot tower; glycol oozes through pipes underground on its journey to and from ground source heat pump units; downspouts funnel water into a cistern for later use flushing toilets.

These are just a few of the environmentally friendly features that Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center of Goshen College will celebrate Saturday, April 8 when staff, students and supporters gather to dedicate the first three of the seven buildings that will make up Rieth Village. The facility is designed to serve undergraduate students studying natural history, environmental education and agroecology.

The dedication will take place at 3:30 p.m. at Rieth Village, adjacent to Merry Lea’s Farmstead, Wolf Lake, Ind. Following the dedication, at 4:15 p.m., Luke Gascho, Merry Lea’s executive director, will offer a guided tour of the buildings and the sustainable features of the facilities. The buildings will also be open for self-guided tours prior to the dedication service, from 1:30 to 3:15 p.m. Events are free and open to the public. Attendees are asked to park in the general parking areas at the Farmstead and meet in the nearby pavilion.

Rieth Village was conceived and designed to meet the highest standards of the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system. LEED buildings are required to meet rigorous standards in areas such as energy efficiency, water management, use of recycled materials and indoor air quality. At present, no Indiana building has attained LEED certification, though several are in process.

The new developments at Merry Lea coincide with two recent milestones: 2005 marked Merry Lea’s 40th year of existence and its 25th year of partnership with Goshen College. “It is moving to see how our history has served as a foundation for our current objectives and our emphasis on environmentally sustainable living,” said Gascho. “Our mission has remained consistent over this time period.”

Rieth Village’s first occupants will be Goshen College students enrolled in two May term 2006 courses: one in ornithology and a course on environmental education for prospective teachers. In the summer, the buildings will house undergraduates taking a new summer intensive in agroecology.

A second opportunity to tour Rieth Village will be Saturday, May 6 during Merry Lea’s annual NatureFest. For more information on the dedication or the NatureFest, call (260) 799-5869 or e-mail

Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center is an 1,150-acre nature center located in central Noble County and owned and operated by Goshen College. It offers environmental education to over 7,000 school children each year, provides programs to the public and serves as a research site for undergraduates. This natural sanctuary for northern Indiana’s plants and animals, provides environmental education for people of all ages and a setting to recreate opportunities that benefit the human body and spirit without exploiting the land. Merry Lea was created with the assistance of the Nature Conservancy and the generosity of Lee A. and Mary Jane Rieth. For more information, go to

– By Jennifer Schrock

Editors: For more information about this release, to arrange an interview or request a photo, contact Goshen College News Bureau Director Jodi H. Beyeler at (574) 535-7572 or


Goshen College, established in 1894, is a four-year residential Christian liberal arts college rooted in the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition. The college’s Christ-centered core values – passionate learning, global citizenship, compassionate peacemaking and servant-leadership – prepare students as leaders for the church and world. Recognized for its unique Study-Service Term program, Goshen has earned citations of excellence in Barron’s Best Buys in Education, “Colleges of Distinction,” “Making a Difference College Guide” and U.S.News & World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges” edition, which named Goshen a “least debt college.” Visit