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Our History

The University of Cincinnati created the UC Center for Field Studies in 2008 as part of an initiative to increase field research. The center was created to serve as a field station that fostered environmental education and research for the Greater Cincinnati community and beyond. The Field Center is administratively connected with UC’s College of Arts and Sciences; the center’s early involvement with the university included the Environmental Studies, Biological Sciences, Geology, Anthropology, and Geography departments. 

Natural History

The UC Field Center, located in Hamilton County, is home to a variety of native habitats including mixed mesophytic eastern deciduous forests, marshes, restored prairies, and riparian forests. The many trees that populate the area range from young secondary growth to old-growth forests, and some of the center’s oldest trees are over 200 years old. The center is flanked by the Whitewater and Great Miami Rivers which formed the floodplains and steep topography that exposes the Ordovician limestone and shale bedrock common to this area. 

Native American and Shaker History

Native Americans lived in and around the Field Center for thousands of years before Europeans came to the region. The Field Center is populated with a rich cultural heritage that gives researchers the opportunity for archaeological and palaeoecological research in collaboration with tribe leaders in the area. 


William Walker was the first European inhabitant of the Field Center property and built the farmhouse and barn in 1830; the property was purchased by the Whitewater Shakers in the 1850s, who used the location as a home for orphans and newcomers into their community. In the early 20th century, the Shakers sold the Field Center settlement, which was eventually purchased by the Hamilton County Park District (HCPD) in 1991. In 2008, the University established a long-term partnership with the HCPD to establish the current UC Field Center. 

Looking Forward

Today, the UC Field Center is in the center of the historic South Shaker Farm within the 4,000 acre Miami Whitewater Forest. Because of the Field Center’s collaboration with Great Parks, researchers and students have access to 16,000 acres of county park for research and educational projects. The UC Field Center is situated only 30 minutes away from the University of Cincinnati’s West Campus and provides a myriad of opportunities for students of all disciplines in its 17.6 acres of land. 

As the Field Center moves forward, we hope to continue fostering a place where all students, scientists, creatives, and nature lovers can connect with our natural and human history.


The Whitewater Shaker Village is established.

UC Field Center 1830s white farmhouse


The Walker Farm is purchased by the Whitewater Society of Shakers and becomes the South Shaker Farm.

Side of white barn with open door


Hamilton County Park District (HCPD) purchases the land.

UC Center for Field Studies entrance


The UC Board of Trustees formally names the land the "University of Cincinnati Center for Field Studies," affirming its status as a University of Cincinnati facility.

The College of Arts and Sciences signs an agreement with John and Georgia Court to build the "John C. Court Archeological Research Facility" to accommodate the need for more research and teaching space.

Stream surrounded by trees and green plants


The University of Cincinnati renovates the farmhouse which is now used as a space for classrooms, offices, and a library.

The Field Center hosts the annual meeting of the Hamilton Land Conservancy.

Students doing lab work in an open barn


Construction of the John C. Court Archeological Research Facility (CARF) is complete and the first courses are held at this facility.

The Field Center receives their first grant from Duke Energy to support two summer courses: Experiential Learning in Environmental Research and Interdisciplinary Field Experiences. These courses are designed to science teachers to bridge the gap between the classroom and environmental field research.

Yellow flower field


William Walker builds the historic farmhouse and barn.

White barn in a field with a tree


The Whitewater Shakers dissolve and sell the property to a private land owner.

Drone image of entire Field Center property


The University of Cincinnati acquires the land and establishes the Cincinnati Center for Field Studies as part of the University's UC21 initiative.

UC Center for Field Studies sign


The Field Center begins to host the “Volunteers Water Quality Monitoring Program” where volunteers bring samples from throughout the Great Miami River to analyze for 6 water quality parameters.

In collaboration with the Ohio River Foundation, the Field Center offers a three-week course on stream ecology for high school students from the Youth Conservation Corps.

Restored classroom with chalkboard and black desks


Researchers at the Field Center are awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to improve the facility, communications, and equipment.

A class of students inside research facility watching a presentation

Want to Learn More?

Contact us with any questions or inquiries!

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