Simon's Rock Field Station

Bard’s College at Simon’s Rock Establishes Field Station in Montserrat

Simon’s Rock Field Station

A new field station currently under construction is expected to bring jobs as well as signal a return of an accredited education institute to Montserrat.

On Monday, May 6, 2024, a ceremonial ribbon was cut at the site of the new field station being built by the Massachusetts based Bard College at Simon’s Rock to serve as a home away from home for its students who have been visiting the island for research since 2014.

Lyston Skerritt, Chairman of Simon’s Rock Educational Foundation in Montserrat Inc. said construction on the complex is to be completed at the end of July 2024. He also told Discover Montserrat that the station will provide fulltime employment for up to five people with an additional 15 to 20 people providing contractual services.

In attendance at the brief ceremony and celebration were Premier Joseph Farrell, Deputy Premier Dr. Samuel Joseph, Minister of Agriculture Crenston Buffonge, Opposition Leader Paul Lewis along with Member of the Opposition David Osborne. There were several representatives from Bard College Simon Rock at the event, along with nine students and their facilitators currently conducting research here.

Simon’s Rock Field Station

Dr. Thomas Coote, Programme Director of Berkshire Environmental Research Centre told the gathering that this is the ninth group of students coming to Montserrat as part of their programme. He said more than 70 students have visited with several of them returning multiple times to continue their research. He thanked the people of Montserrat for welcoming them with open arms.

Dr. Coote said that he and Mr. Skerritt have been working on a plan to establish a field station here since 2017 and he was pleased that they had arrived at this significant milestone.

Minister Crenston Buffonge acknowledged the collaboration of the school with local agencies including the Department of Environment, the Montserrat National Trust and the Montserrat Volcano Observatory. He welcomed the continued partnership and expressed his desire for an expanded curriculum which included agricultural sciences.

Dr. John Weinstein, Provost and Vice President of Bard College at Simon’s Rock said that “when you build a school, you can build the country.” He said he was honoured to learn about the history of the location of the new field station, which was the former Belham Valley Restaurant. He added that the restaurant space will fittingly serve as the dining hall and a classroom space for the visiting students.

The property, which has been purchased by Bard College will also include a small dormitory and lab.

The ceremony marked 13 years of partnership between Bard’s College at Simon’s Rock and the people of Montserrat. Over the period,
the institution has facilitated service-learning trips bringing 71 students to the island to conduct research in environmental science, ecology, biology and cultural studies.

The Simon’s Rock Field Station will serve as the home for Simon’s Rock in Montserrat and a cadre of colleges and universities interested in conducting Service-Learning trips on the island. A field station is a multipurpose facility that enables a variety of academic interests and research targets like ecology, biology, chemistry, geology, art, literature, music, poetry and engineering. At the end of phase I, the facility will house 15-18 students, a cafeteria, laundry services and a teaching lab.

“We are thrilled to open the doors to our students, faculty, partners and the people of Montserrat. We are dedicated to creating further strategic partnerships to create mutually beneficial opportunities for education, research and policy development,” stated Dr. Coote.

The facility is tentatively booked for 7/12 months in 2025 and the management said they are looking forward to more opportunities to engage with local partners who may see the value of a cost-effective option for group reservations. Over the next few months, they plan to reach out to stakeholders to tour the site to consider possibilities of local partnership. This will include uniformed bodies, sports associations, and community action groups.

For more information about the field station, the managing non-profit or Bard College at Simon’s Rock, contact Lyston Skerritt, Chairman of the Simon’s Rock in Montserrat Educational Foundation Inc.