Pond & Wetland Research Area

The pond, an original fixture of the Frank family farm purchased by Kent State University in 1967, was re-established as an EPA-approved wetland research area in 2007, a revitalization project initiated by former Kent State Stark dean, William Bittle. The update included the addition of indigenous plants and wildlife, along with a gazebo and walking path. The area serves as an outdoor learning and research classroom for students and faculty. On average, 1,400-5,000 gallons of pond water, continuously replenished by an underground spring, is used to hydrate the foliage on the 200-acre campus grounds. 

The pond is central to Kent State Stark's annual Earth Day Celebration, featuring a family friendly event, consisting of environmental educational activities, demonstrations and discussions for all ages.


The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) has recognized the pond/wetland area as an official Certified Wildlife Habitat™ site. NWF began the Certified Wildlife Habitat Program in 1973, and has since certified nearly 150,000 habitats nationwide. The organization teaches the importance of environmental stewardship by providing guidelines for making landscapes more hospitable to wildlife. In order to become certified, a property must provide the four basic elements that all wildlife need: food, water, cover and places to raise young. In addition to providing for wildlife, certified habitats conserve our natural resources by reducing or eliminating the need for fertilizers, pesticides and/or irrigation water, which ultimately protects the air, soil and water throughout our communities.

Kent State Stark’s pond/wetland area serves as an academic research site for students in various science courses, as well as a focal point for the community and campus events. The pond, which is approximately 2.25 acres, is surrounded by a third-mile walking track and features illustrated, scaled geologic and planetary exhibits. The plants around the wetland are indigenous to Ohio and the pond is home to various wildlife, such as fish, turtles and birds.

Jerome Ringo, former chairman of the National Wildlife Federation, toured the pond area while on campus to deliver a lecture as part of the 2010-11 Featured Speakers Series. “Kent State University at Stark’s outdoor habitat is a clear example of the institution’s commitment to the preservation of nature and its conservation ethics. With the global challenge of ensuring environmental sustainability, the campus has taken steps that connect people with nature and, like the National Wildlife Federation, recognizes that the future is in the balance,” says Ringo.

The newly certified wildlife habitat at Kent State Stark supports NWF’s mission to inspire Americans to protect wildlife for our children’s future.


  • Dredged to a depth of over 13 feet to ensure water supply.
  • Springs and artesian wells provide water stability.
  • Overflow and two aerators promote flow, prevent stagnation, and help sustain fish in the winter.
  • Native plants and animals reintroduced to replace non-native species.
  • Care was taken to provide a number of different habitats for plant and animal diversity and to enhance viewing enjoyment.
  • Poised to become a premier site for hands-on research by students at Kent State Stark and local public schools.


Over 5,000 trees, bushes and plants were reintroduced, including native cattails and bulrushes.

  • Big and Little Bluestem and other native prairie plants now grow here.
  • Many wildflowers have been planted along the path, including exotic and rare species.


Over 4,000 animals were reintroduced in the water and on shore.

  • Fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals all reside in the wetland area.
  • Water fleas, minnows and crayfish are among the water dwellers.
  • Canton Audubon members have identified over 37 species of birds on the site and migration swells those numbers.
  • Muskrat, fox and woodchuck are among the many animals.
  • Snakes, turtles and frogs of several species sun themselves here.


Robert Hamilton IV, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
023D Science & Nursing