Merrimack College associate professor David MacLaren estimated nearly 150 of his biology students have participated in lichen and bird projects at Quarrybrook.
“This has been a great opportunity for us to initiate cool research projects,” MacLaren said.
Quarrybrook has amounted to a field station for Merrimack College, he said.
He sees a potential for Merrimack College education majors to take advantage of the institute as well.
“We hope this will grow in the future,” MacLaren said. “We do see it being a long-term partnership.”
The charitable Technical Training Foundation had about $60 million in assets as of two years ago.
Ibrahim El-Hefni, founder of Microwave Engineering Corp., established the foundation in the 1990s to provide medical and educational support to people.
He died in 2005, but his daughter, Suzanne Wright, serves on the foundation board.
She has said he owned the land in Windham for years, but didn’t want to sell it, preferring instead to see it put to a better use.
Quarrybrook has two full-time employees, including Ellis, and one part-time employee.
Ellis came from California and the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy to head up Quarrybrook.
She is adapting what she’s learned through education programs in California to Windham.
“This is a really neat opportunity to take something that’s already been field tested,” she said. “We’ve very excited about the product.”
Cross described Ellis as an outstanding education specialist and she sees a great future for the institute.
“It is going to be phenomenal. It has the potential to be one of the outstanding outdoor learning centers,” she said. “I think people will be clamoring to get in.”