Amherst couple donates 10 acres to Medaille College for “living laboratory”

Oct 24, 2019

Medaille College celebrated the donation of 10 acres of wetlands property for use by its biology department Wednesday.

Frank and Jeanette Levin said they had no prior connection to the small private college, but that they were pleased Medaille had the interest and the foresight to preserve land they consider a sanctuary.

The donated property is located at 3725 Millersport Highway in Amherst.
Credit Courtesy of Medaille College

“We want to see that the water’s preserved. We want to see that the trees and wildlife are maintained, not just for a season or two, but forever,” Mr. Levin told WBFO at a luncheon in the couple’s honor at Sean Patrick’s Restaurant on Millersport Highway in Amherst, near the donated property.

Medaille College President Dr. Kenneth Macur said the acreage, designated as wetlands by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, will give students and faculty the opportunity to study aquatic life, invasive species and more.

Jeanette and Frank Levin were honored at a luncheon ceremony Wednesday.
Credit Kyle S. Mackie/WBFO News

“We’re excited because our professor Bernie Clabeaux is a specialist in ecological restoration, and so we know that this living laboratory, as it will be named in honor of the Levins, will be an outside classroom for biology students at Medaille College, and we’ll be inviting other schools and other groups to take advantage of this opportunity as well,” Macur said.

Several Medaille biology students had the opportunity to thank the Levins in person Wednesday. Jay Bortel, a sophomore, is one of the first students to explore the land with Dr. Clabeaux.

Jay Bortel is a sophomore biology major at Medaille College.
Credit Courtesy of Medaille College

“It’s really cool to see wildlife thrive without really much human interaction,” Bortel said. “And there’s the vernal pools [a kind of temporary wetland] there, which you don’t see a lot anymore…it’s pretty cool to see stuff like that in the wild, with your own eyes, versus like, I can read it out of page 64 of this textbook.”

Mr. Levin said he considers the donation “just the tip of the iceberg” in terms of the contributions to science and medicine he hopes will be generated by study of the land he and Mrs. Levin have owned and left mostly untouched for decades.

“More and more will be done in the future,” he said, “far beyond our years.”