Nancy Braker and Matt Elbert
Matthew Elbert, Manager, and Nancy Braker ’81, Director of the Cowling Arboretum

The Cowling Arboretum serves as an outdoor classroom for the Biology Department. It consists of approximately 800 acres (360 hectares) of land adjacent to the College, including mesic forest and floodplain forest along the Cannon River, marshes, small patches of prairie, and pine plantations. Some of the ongoing projects include restoration of prairie and oak savanna habitats and monitoring of secondary succession in both upland and floodplain habitats.

A wealth of information about the Arb has been gathered by students in formal courses and independent studies who share their stories in the weekly Arb Talk blog. To learn more about arboretum activities and events, check the Current Arb Happenings. 

McKnight Prairie is another area for outdoor studies. It consists of 33.5 acres (14 hectares) of native Minnesota prairie about seven miles east of campus. Biological studies are conducted each year by students in classes and in independent study.