Institute For Environmental Studies

Rodney & Bertha Fink Environmental Studies Field Laboratory & Conservancy 


In October, 2007, WIU received a gift of land from Dr. Rodney Fink, Emeritus Dean of the former College of Applied Sciences and Mrs. Bertha Fink, a Western alumna and former instructor of health sciences. The 77 acre property, now known as the Rodney and Bertha Fink Environmental Studies Field Laboratory and Conservancy is located approximately 3 miles west of WIU’s campus in Macomb, IL, and contains almost ½ mile of East LaMoine River frontage. The land is currently held in three United States Department of Agriculture conservancy agreements.

Map of the Fink Field Laboratory
Map of the Fink Environmental Studies
Field Laboratory & Conservancy
(courtesy of the WIU GIS Center).

Key Features

  1. Proximity to campus allows undergraduate and graduate students to become engaged in “hands-on” applications that complement classroom studies.
  2. Unrestricted water access supports uninterrupted collection of aquatic data over a protracted period of time.
  3. Multidisciplinary opportunities.  A variety of terrestrial and aquatic habitats (including recovering prairie) provides opportunities for students from many academic backgrounds to work both individually and in multidisciplinary teams.Representative examples of groups at WIU who are involved in multidisciplinary studies include: the Departments of Biological Sciences, Geology, & Geography; the Geographic Information System Center, and the Institute for Environmental Studies.
  4. Enhancement of field-based capabilities.  Resources at the site compliment and expand on WIU’s existing field education and research facilities: the Alice L. Kibbe Life Science Station and the Ira & Bertha T. Post Wildlife Sanctuary.

Lamoine River Pool bordering the Fink Field Laboratory
A pool on the east Lamoine River
(photo by L. Dean, 10/2007).
Prairie & Forest at the Fink Field Lab
Recovering prairie & hardwood
forest (photo by L. Dean, 10/2007).

Student & Faculty Engagement

The Fink Laboratory & Conservancy has been integrated into laboratory/field components of courses in the Departments of Biological Sciences, English & Journalism, Geography, and Geology as well as the Institute for Environmental Studies; examples include:

  • ENVR 201 — Introduction to Environmental Studies
  • BIOL 414 — Ichthyology
  • ZOOL 451 — Animal Ecology
  • GEOL 310 — Geologic Field Method
  • JOUR 400 Journalism Topics Environmental Journalism

The site is also used by undergraduate and graduate student researchers and faculty who are studying the distribution of turkey populations throughout the region.

Geology drill rig at the Fink Field Laboratory
Drill rig at the Fink Filed Laboratory
(photo by S. Bennett, 2009).

Geology 350 students with soil core
GEOL 350 students with soil core.
(photo by S. Bennett, 2009).

Additional information from University Relations on the Fink’s gift to WIU.