Nature Center: History, Animals, and its Caretaker


Carmen Ballon.

James Eyring, Assistant Director of Dyson College Nature Center, gives the history of Pace’s environmental efforts.

Carmen Ballon, Social Media Manager

Before Elm and Alumni, there was the Environmental/Nature Center, a paradise in the middle of campus built in the 1760s, which allowed farm animals to roam the streets freely.

When the center was threatened in the 70’s, student Vietnam veterans filled the streets protesting and battling to save the facility, making it the first environmental center on a college campus. This action led to a long-term environmental commitment from President Mortola (Mortola Library).

Almost 45 years later, the environmental center has blossomed into an animal sanctuary for goats, pigs, snakes, raptor birds and more. James Eyring, Assistant Director of Dyson College Nature Center, is the caretaker of these wild animals and hosted “Meet the Animals” this past Wednesday in hopes to bring awareness of the importance of the Environmental center.

All animals in the barn have been rescued from abusive homes who mistreated them which led to psychological issues or disabilities. Pigs, Leroy and Rosie, were rescued from an animal hoarder on Staten Island who had 47 cats and 20 dogs.

After receiving, Leroy and Rosie were frightened by any human. Eyring dedicated his time to slowly teaching the pigs to trust again by giving treats, caring for them, and adjusting the pigs to human touch. Now, Eyring and Student Animal Keepers can rub their bellies, teach them tricks, and play with them.

“They are smart,” Eyring said “They are like people they have true personality.”

Eyring became caretaker of the farm 37 years ago. His love for nature dates back to attending the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970. On that day, he immediately became fascinated about the environment.

“I have always been outdoorsy,” Eyring said “I have had an outdoor orientation. Felling more comfortable with animals and the outdoors, than I did with people.”

Eyring, having learning disabilities himself, felt at home outdoors, caring for animals that many people do not understand themselves.

“I found my heaven,” said Eyring.

Later bringing his passion to Pace, teaching over 1 million students in almost 40 years. However, one memory he has never forgotten was his 1st week, reading the orginal mission statement of the Nature Center on a Newsletter.

“To teach people of all walks to live closer in harmony with nature,” said Eyring.

This year, the Nature Center hopes to improve campus awareness to the facility by tabling in Kessel and hosting animal program demonstrations. For students interested in learning about these animals, Eyring recommends they contact him via email at [email protected].

Eyring’s ultimate goal is to increase environmental study programs throughout Pace.

“We have one planet earth, we are on his blue marvel,” Eyring said. “This is paradise, It is an oasis in the middle of Westchester.”