RIT’s Tait Preserve & program, formerly known as the ‘Penfield quarry home,’ gets new educational endowment

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PENFIELD, N.Y. (WROC) — The Tait Preserve was acquired by RIT in 2019, after the $10 million property in Penfield was left unsold for a number of months. Now, its getting another boost.

The property itself was made from an old san quarry, and was completely rehabilitated. The space feels as if it has its own ecosystem, with dozens of species of animal life, complete with lush and verdant plants. It was also complete with a luxurious barn-style house.

As breathtaking as the 177-acre property (with a 60-acre private lake) on Old Quarry Lane was, it never sold. The fact that its adjacent to firing range was perhaps a contributing factor.

When the property was acquired by RIT, the university said it would officially become the Tait Preserve of RIT and Leenhouts Lodge (named for the previous owners), and will offer research opportunities in ecology, agriculture, sustainability and other fields.

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Now, a nonprofit called Delta Environmental is helping to create a new educational program at RIT at the preserve by establishing a new endowment.

RIT says that the Delta worked to provide environmental and educational awareness for almost 50 years. This new $200,000 endowment — the Wayne Harris Delta Environmental Education Endowment Fund — will help to advance those goals, as well as create community partnerships.

“One opportunity I’m excited to pursue right away will create synergy with our grant to study plastic pollution in local waterways,” said Christy Tyler, an aquatic ecologist and associate professor at RIT’s Thomas H. Gosnell School of Life Sciences. “Partnering with this new endowment to develop plastic pollution outreach and education materials is going to be a wonderful asset.”

The university also says it’s looking to adapt their Adopt-A-Stream curriculum to the one mile stretch of Ellison Creek on the property. They also say it will expand their K-12 programming.

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