Skip to main content

Kilbride Nature Sanctuary

Kilbride1The Kilbride Nature Sanctuary is a 92-acre property in Dayton, TN, donated by Bill Kilbride to Tennessee Wesleyan for use by students and faculty. This area is currently used by students and faculty in the natural sciences department for research and classes, providing students the opportunity to conduct hands-on research and expand their classroom experiences.

Senior Brett Longwith conducted research at the Kilbride Nature Sanctuary during the fall 2015 semester to determine if the floristic makeup of the river and field edges of the property are the same. Working with TWU professors Dr. Allen Moore and Dr. Grant Willhite, Longwith set up six plots at the Kilbride Nature Sanctuary, two on the river, two in the middle of the property and two on the field edge. He observed the flora in the areas and determined the Kilbride Nature Sanctuary flora are 95% statistically different at the river and field edge of the property. He says the Kilbride property is a benefit to Tennessee Wesleyan students and helps enhance his education.

“[This research] really allows you to get out in the field because there’s a complete difference between taking notes and talking about these different species of trees,” Longwith said,” but when you go out there and actually have to identify and do the field work, it reinforces everything you do learn in the classroom.”

Nestled along the banks of the Tennessee River, the Dayton, Tennessee property was originally purchased by Kilbride in 2004 when he bought it from a seller who had been trying to turn it into lots for hundreds of future homes to be built on. Kilbride’s intent for the property was that it become an environmental Kilbride2reserve.

“I wanted the land to be returned to its natural state,” Kilbride said.

Bringing in groups such as Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and the Tennessee Division of Forestry of the Department of Agriculture, Kilbride talked with dozens of experts in the wildlife and agricultural fields to come up with a plan to rehabilitate the land to its natural state.

Ridding the property of overgrowth, bringing in crops, and planting trees soon became Kilbride’s weekend projects. With many of the trees being planted by Kilbride himself, the property holds a special place in his heart, which is why he took great care in his decision to donate the property to Tennessee Wesleyan.

“Just as I set about to find the best restoration plan for the land all those years ago, I recently set about finding the best plan for what to do with the land now,” Kilbride said. “I talked to several non-profits and groups about the land and finally came around to the idea of donating the property to TWU. I began to think about how our generation needs to take the students of today, the leaders of tomorrow, and in some shape or form, introduce them to the importance of environmental sustainability.”

Kilbride’s hope for donating his land to TWU was that the property would attract different types of science and liberal arts students as well as add value to the Tennessee Wesleyan education. TWU has embraced Kilbride’s land and have chosen to call it “The Kilbride Nature Sanctuary.” In addition to plans for arts and religious studies uses, the college’s science department will primarily use the land.

Kilbride3“I use the land for my ecology, environmental science and biology courses for field-oriented projects,” Dr. Allen Moore, TWU associate professor of biology, said. “It will also be an extremely valuable asset for those students wishing to undertake independent research projects under the direction of one of the natural sciences faculty members. This generous donation from Mr. Kilbride enables us, as instructors, the opportunity to get our students outdoors and actually see firsthand many of the interactions in nature that we lecture about in the classroom. This truly opens up many avenues of research for both TWU’s students and faculty.”

Educational Uses

July 2014-December 2014

  • Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Allen Moore and several students began a floristic inventory. Specimens have been collected for the TWU herbarium to be used for multiple classes. Only common species are collected. Rare or uncommon species are photographed for documentation purposes.
  • In fall 2014, Dr. Moore's ecology class took a tree survey of 1000m2 as part of their field work. This gave students hands-on experience with the proper field methodologies used in the plant sciences.
  • Dr. Moore and students Maria Holder, Summer Cupples and Tyler Hall completed a tree survey and presented the results at the Tennessee Academy of Science meeting in November 2014.
  • Dr. Moore designated a special section of the TWU Herbarium to hold only specimens from the Kilbride Nature Reserve to provide easy access to students needing examples for research or coursework.

January 2015-December 2015

  • Continue overall floristic survey.
  • Students will begin a bryophyte (moss) survey of the reserve.
  • In May 2015, Dr. Moore taught a local flora/biota course at the reserve.
  • June-July 2015: The property will be used for BIO 101 and BIO 102 during the summer session.
  • Dr. Moore and students will begin water quality studies in the area.
  • Fall 2015: Ecology students will begin continue floristic surveys of the property as part of the laboratory requirement.
  • Brett Longwith, together with Dr. Moore, will completed an independent research project and present the results at the 2015 meeting of the Tennessee Academy of Science.