Located adjacent to Ravensbourne National Park is a small schoolhouse surrounded by rainforests, grasslands, woodlands and agroecosystems.
The facility, now known as the Ravensbourne Field Studies Centre, has stood for more than a hundred years and has previously been used as a field station by the University of Southern Queensland and other organisations.
In a bid to restore the space after a decade of vacancy, the Field Studies Centre has recently been revamped by the University and will again become a nature haven for students and researchers in the School of Agriculture and Environmental Science.
Terrestrial Ecology Lecturer Dr Christina Birnbaum said the space would give students an unmatched opportunity to demonstrate and apply practical skills.
“There’s only so much we can teach in an indoor classroom – the outdoor classroom is our main teaching tool,” Dr Birnbaum said.
“Having exclusive access to the Ravensbourne Field Studies Centre will make the process of putting the theory into practice so much easier,” she said.
Senior Lecturer Dr Jarrod Kath said the additional hands-on learning offered a wide range of benefits.
“As the facility hasn’t been used in over a decade, our students have a great opportunity to start from scratch and get a holistic survey of the ecosystem,” Dr Kath said.
“Throughout the year, they’ll be collecting data from the local creeks and dams, using camera traps to survey animals and tramping through the bush looking at vegetation,” he said.
“This is the type of environment in which they’ll end up working so it’s really important that they are out in the field getting experience with how to survey, understand and analyse the data.”
In addition to enhancing learning and teaching aspects, the Field Studies Centre will be used as a research hub.
With several projects already under way, Associate Professor (Plant Microbe Interactions) John Dearnaley preached the importance of having the facility near the University’s Toowoomba campus.
"The access and convenience will be invaluable for our researchers as they progress with their work,” Associate Professor Dearnaley said.
“There’s no better canvas for their field work than this local, natural environment,” he said.
Learn more about Environmental Science at the University of Southern Queensland.