Unveiling of Roadside Historical Marker at Ball Property in Goochland Commemorates More than 50 Years of Field Research

August 9, 2019

Editor's Note: This release was updated Aug. 15 to include photos taken at the commemoration ceremony.

Photo above taken at the Ball Property marker dedication courtesy of John Hayden, biology professor. Hayden also took the photos below related to his research projects at the site.

UNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND — The unveiling of a roadside historical marker at the Ball Property in Goochland County, Virginia, will formally recognize a donation that has resulted in more than 50 years of field teaching and research at the University of Richmond.

A commemoration ceremony for the 104-acre property is being held Aug. 14 at 11 a.m. at Clover Hill Farm, which is located adjacent to the Ball Property at 2094 Sheppard Town Road, Goochland, Virginia.

James Ball donated the property to the Virginia Outdoors Foundation in 1968 in order to conserve the land for future generations. It was immediately transferred to the University of Richmond and has been used for field studies by the Department of Biology ever since. Over the years, dozens of UR faculty and students have used the site, known around campus as “Ball Park.”  

“This site has served such a crucial purpose for me, my colleagues, and most importantly our students,” said John Hayden, a professor of biology who has conducted research at the property for more than three decades. “As our students pursue competitive graduate school programs and careers, it’s critical they participate in hands-on field research experiences outside of the classroom. This field site has allowed me and other biology faculty to further our research pursuits.”

Hayden, a botanist, has used the property for a variety of research opportunities. For example, in the fall of 2003, Hayden supervised three undergraduate students in a mass collection of seeds from the Ball Property. Those seeds were then deposited in the Millennium Seed Bank, a project of the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew, Great Britain. The goal of the project is to conserve samples of plant genetic diversity for future generations to be used for conservation and/or research purposes.

Ball’s gift is noteworthy in that it was the first open-space easement for the Virginia Outdoors Foundation and for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Open-space easements are legal agreements that limit residential, commercial, and industrial development. By donating his property to UR as an easement, generations of UR students have been able to conduct scientific field research in a natural environment.