The Kiser Outdoor Learning Laboratory connects the learning activities in the labs and greenhouse to the natural world. It will be an ideal site to learn to identify native Northwest plants, to observe the interrelationships in Northwest plant communities, and to participate in long-term studies of plant growth and physiology. This outdoor lab will support courses in Botany, Biology, Environmental Science, and Zoology. The laboratory also will also include rock formations characteristic of our region, supporting Geology and Earth Sciences Classes.
The next several months will see dramatic transformations in the block west of the New Science Center. Most of the houses adjoining the site were removed in December; others will be removed in later phases of this project. Over the next several months, the landscape will be transformed from a flat field into a variable, undulating topography with collections of native plants: trees, shrubs, perennials, and annuals. The site will include riparian and wetland habitats along China Creek to the north, lowland and upland forests, lowland meadows, alpine forests and meadows, and easern Washington forests.
The Kiser Garden, originally located near Kemp Hall to the east of the current location, was moved as part of the construction for the New Science Center. Many of the plants were transplanted to other sites around campus during the construction phase and in anticipation of the remodeling at the new site.
The outdoor learning lab is named in honor of Rufus Kiser. "Rufe" came to Centralia College in 1941 as a zoology and physical science instructor. By the time he retired in 1973, he had taught nearly every phase of science, but he was best-known for his popular and important forestry classes. During his tenure, hundreds of foresters, forest technicians, and others employed during the heyday of Lewis County logging could be counted among his former students. He was also active in describing and preserving the plants at Seminary Hill Natural Area. A collection of his observations on the plants of Seminary Hill Natural Area was published in Walking with Rufus on Seminary Hill: A Seasonal Study of Trees, Shrubs, and Wildflowers of Seminary Hill.