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Understanding environmental change in a changing world

Northern Kentucky University’s Research and Education Field Station (REFS) facility provides scholars an operations base for a wide range of field research and offers students across disciplines opportunities for field-oriented curricula, independent research, and close interactions with professionals. REFS also serves as a center for the community to connect and learn about the environment.


our location

Research, university courses, and public engagement are in full swing at REFS. The station supports a range of university curriculum for students from those studying biology and environmental science to visual arts and theater to journalism. See our section on Research to lean more about field-based investigations that take place at REFS and the associated St. Anne Woods and Wetlands. REFS invites the community to spend a summer evening learning about a special nature topic at our Talk-&-Walk events, and join in an afternoon of outdoor activities at our Nature Adventure Day at the end of September.  This is an opportunity to take the whole family out and experience many aspects of nature and the wetlands. You will also be able to engage with researchers to learn about their investigations in the natural areas, visit a gallery of nature and ecology stations at the REFS facilities, and participate in a variety of field events such as scavenger hunts, turtle races, and nature hikes. Our spring Earth Day hikes also give the public a chance to join in as university faculty lead tours through the natural areas to discover the awakening of spring flowers and wildlife after a long winter's rest.  


NEW to REFS! Wetlands Management Micro-credential. This program includes professional short courses in wetlands management, wetland plant identification, wetlands delineation, and wetland quality assessment. With this NKU micro-credential you can demonstrate your mastery of relevant field skills, abilities and competencies, which is professionally invaluable not only to you, but also to your employer. See our section on the Wetland Management Micro-credential to learn more about these courses and for registration.


St. Anne Woods and Wetlands is part of the Campbell County Conservation District and funded by Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund



The Research and Education Field Station (REFS) is located at 

99 Harrison Ct.,
Melbourne, KY 41059

The Research and Education Field Station (REFS) is located adjacent to and facilitates the use of 155 acres of St. Anne Woods and Wetlands Natural Area, a conservation easement on and near the Ohio River. REFS is within the Outer Bluegrass Ecoregion, and includes both open and closed canopy wetlands in the lowland and mixed mesophytic forest and open grassland in upland natural areas. There is also substantial old growth forest, primarily dominated by beech.