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Primmer 04
Classrooms without walls
Primmer 03
Classrooms without walls
Primmer 02
Classrooms without walls
Primmer 01
Classrooms without walls

Primmer Outdoor Research

Student-centered Learning at Capital

eStem Gabby Power

  • Student and faculty research projects in Biology, Chemistry, and Environmental Science
  • Field experiences in ecology, environmental science, biology research methods, and other courses
  • Educational outreach through collaboration with external partners, including boy scouts, elementary school science teachers, and research experiences for eSTEM high students in Central Ohio
  • Service projects and tours for Capital students through LSO, ESO, and the Office of Student and Community Engagement

Given to Capital University through a generous donation in 2005, the Merl and Margaret Primmer Outdoor Learning Center was established to foster biological and related research experiences and to promote creative learning opportunities consistent with Capital University’s educational goals for the students, faculty, alumni, staff and friends of Capital University.

The center, located in the Hocking Hills regions of Appalachia in Logan, Ohio, preserves the natural resources of the land in a manner that exemplifies principles of ecological restoration, biological conservation, and environmental sustainability.

An ideal research and learning center, the 74-acre property has seven ecosystems, including approximately 15 acres of a high-quality wetland and an area of groundwater seeps, which feed into three small streams. The wetland features a heron rookery with over 30 nests, and a bald eagle nest.

Other ecological factors contribute to the educational value of the property, including footage along the Hocking River and a riparian forest, a secondary-growth deciduous forest, old field and pasture habitats (some of which are slowly being converted to Ohio Prairie), and a pine/spruce plantation.

Facts about the Primmer Outdoor Learning Center

The Gift

1996 Margaret and Merl Primmer donated 74 acre farm outside of Logan, Ohio to Capital University. Received the property in November 2005.

“In gratitude for the values that Capital University has instilled in generations of students … we respond with a gift of real property… (for) an Outdoor Learning Center … which shall be used for creative learning opportunities and research of a biological nature . . . primarily for, but not limited to, students, faculty, alumni, staff and friends of Capital ...”

74 acres, 7 Ecosystems

Wetland and Heron Rookery, Riparian Forest, Hocking River System, Temperate Deciduous Forest, Groundwater Springs and Streams, Warm-Season Grass Pastures, Pine and Spruce Plantation

6 Land Use Areas

Caretaker’s House, Hillside, Building and Infrastructure, Habitat Observation, Research Area, Riparian are near Hocking River

Types of Use

Education, Research, Preservation, Outreach, Recreation, Sustainability

Class Uses

Ecology and Biology Classes, Environmental Science and Geology Classes, Chemistry Classes, First year Seminar, and Education courses

Outreach Uses

Local boy scouts and eagle scouts, eSTEM Academy at Reynoldsburg Summit High School, and elementary school science teachers

Research Uses

Amphibian diversity in the wetland at Primmer and population attributes of small mammals at Primmer, population genetic structure of white-footed mice across multiple habitats at Primmer, DNA barcoding of tadpoles for species identification at Primmer and other sites near Logan, Ohio, Hydrogeologic Budget of a Wetland, and many more

Students can present their research finding at local and national conferences, gain experience writing grants, and submit their written work for publication in Epistimi.

Student Field and Lab Research Opportunities at Capital

photo to Katalin Dotts

Summer Research Experience

Capital Undergraduate student Katalin Dotts, pictured above onsite at the Primmer Outdoor Learning Center said that, “This research was one of the most beneficial opportunities I had at Capital University.”

Since the Primmer property was gifted to Capital in 2005, our students have benefitted from the richness and quality of field research in biology without having to travel too far. Here are some of the advantages our students enjoy:

  • They are able to take advantage of the summer field season when conditions are best for most field research projects.
  • They gain valuable research, field and lab experience to compete with their peers when applying to graduate school, medical school, and job positions.
  • Most importantly, they build relationships with faculty and students to increase retention, foster interest in the sciences, and become well-rounded citizens. 
  • Students can present their research finding at local and national conferences, gain experience writing grants, and submit their written work for publication in Epistimi *

More information

If you would like more information on visiting Primmer for class, research, or public use, contact:

Christine S. Anderson
Associate Professor, Primmer Distinguished Professor
Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences

Influence of Habitat Type on White-footed Mice (Peromyscus Leucopus) Across Multiple Years

Tori M.Hanlin ( and Christine S. Anderson (

Abstract submission for poster presentation

Peromyscus leucopus, the white-footed mouse, is a generalist rodent distributed across the eastern United States which tends to prefer forests containing structurally-complex understory vegetation. White-footed mice are important because they are considered a primary host for the bacterium that causes Lyme disease. The goal of this study was to estimate population abundances in two habitats at Capital University’s Primmer Outdoor Learning Center in Logan, OH during the summer months (May-August) of 2012-2015. A 4x8 grid of 32 Sherman live-traps were placed in a deciduous forest (‘Woods’ grid) while a transect line of 24 Sherman live-traps were placed in a fencerow between an agriculture field (‘AG’ line) and a grassland habitat. Traps were set for a total of 27 nights over the four years. 

Tori Hanlin

Capital Students onsite at Primmer

Tori Hanlin, pictured above, is a senior biology major at Capital University.

- Photograph by Jordan Hores

Peromyscus leucopus

Peromyscus leucopus

White-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus) are a model species to study the pasture fields at Primmer while they are slowly converted to Ohio Prairie (in partnership with the Fish and Wildlife Service).

Mice were confirmed as P. leucopus using multiplex PCR methods. Data analysis showed that densities of mice differed between habitats across years (χ2 = 26.1, df= 3, P< 0.001). Peromyscus leucopus were more abundant in the ‘AG’ line in 2012, 2013, and 2015 compared to the ‘Woods’ grid. Overall, abundances in both habitats were highest in 2015. This work suggests that these rodents, which serve as prey for birds and large mammals, are excellent dispersers that are often found in a variety of habitats. Future research includes estimating genetic diversity and differentiation between populations and examining whether this switch in habitat preference could be due to food availability, competition, or weather (specifically precipitation).