Project Blue, a riparian habitat for scientific study, has opened behind Building 1.

A dedication ceremony for the project was held the morning of Sept. 25.

Funded by the Ernest Prete Jr. Foundation, the project was designed to reclaim the creek that runs naturally through the site. Besides a small creek lined by rock, the site features endemic plants such as black cottonwoods and Western redbuds, as well as shades with charging stations and a learning circle where students to learn and relax.

President Soraya M. Coley cuts the ribbon at the dedication ceremony of Project Blue, a new riparian habitat behind Bldg. 1. (Victoria Gonzalez | The Poly Post)

University President Soraya M. Coley thanked all the staff, faculty and students who supported and worked on the project, especially Kristine Hartney, a biological sciences professor who was involved in the project since its inception, and Bio Trek curator Michael Brown, who oversaw it.

Coley also thanked the president of the Ernest Prete Jr. Foundation, Mohammad Virani, who was also present at the ceremony.

Vice President for University Advancement Dan Montplaisir said the new site will support the university’s “learn by doing” model.

“It will provide hands-on opportunities for students to collect their own samples, make onsite observations, all without having to get in their cars and battle the freeway,” he said.

Coley referenced the university’s recent rebranding effort in her speech. She said the octagon in the new logo had a deliberate meaning.

“I reference the new logo because the Project Blue site that we are dedicating here today perfectly epitomizes the Cal Poly Pomona octagon,” she said.

“All eight of the elements are evident in how this project will benefit our campus community. This location will inspire creativity, discovery, and innovation, and Cal Poly Pomona students from all disciplines will benefit from the educational opportunities.

Coley spoke about the community engagement for K-12 students Project Blue will provide and the feeling of belonging projects like it will instill.

After the ribbon cutting ceremony, Hartney recalled how the project got started.

“That inception started as a hallway conversation in 2011 as part of a water initiative that the university was undertaking at the time,” she said. “And so, we brought up the issue that we have water and this is at the height of the drought and we always have water, so that’s how it got started.”

Project Blue is located in the courtyard behind Building 1.

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