Chris Schulz Published

Park On Fairmont State Campus Receives National Recognition

A tree dominates the frame with green leaves dominating the edges of the tree's profile. Behind the tree and through its branches is a multi-story building with a modern roof, sloping into a brick facade with many windows and glass.
The entrance to the Falcon Center building at Fairmont State University is seen through the branches of a tree.
Jack Walker/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The National Wildlife Federation recently certified Falcon Park at Fairmont State University as a Certified Wildlife Habitat for providing habitat for birds, butterflies and other wildlife using sustainable practices. 

A 7.9-acre green space established in 2021, the Falcon Park project is an ongoing effort led by Assistant Professor of Outdoor Recreation Jan Kiger. 

“For my courses, I teach everything outdoors,” she said. “In that process, I connected the idea to another class that I teach, the foundation outdoor recreation class, and every module that we went through in the class, we kind of looked at the idea of a park on campus.” 

Kiger said with more than a mile of trails, campfire areas and a yurt, the space is a boon for her program, but also for architecture, forensics and the broader community’s mental health. 

“Just providing a green space that’s accessible, safe and just, you don’t even feel like you’re on a college campus when you’re in the woods,” Kiger said. “I’m hoping that more people will come to the park and have that kind of experience and become stewards of the outdoors. We accept volunteers from all aspects of the community.”

Kiger said she is working on expanding the park’s trail system to include a rope guided sensory trail for people with blindness or low vision.