The Archbold Tropical Research and Education Center (ATREC), known in Dominica as the Springfield Guesthouse, was donated to Clemson by an environmental conservationist and philanthropist, John D. Archbold. It is a two hundred acre research facility that seeks to fulfill his vision for international students and researchers to work with Dominica’s citizens to study and address the pressing issues faced by the country. The ATREC team was created from the need to develop Clemson’s facility for on-site projects for ENGAGE, to be a focal point of Clemson influence for the surrounding area and the island, as well as to provide accommodations for students to stay long term during their studies in Dominica.
The infrastructure of the facility has multiple levels of operational conditions. The core buildings, including the main guesthouses and the Bee House, are in good working condition. Uninhabited buildings along the agricultural fields, however, have fallen into disrepair. After Tropical Storm Erika, the guesthouses were used to house refugees who lost their homes in the storm. The property is in an elevated location and has remained relatively unharmed by the many tropical storms which hit the island every year. There is massive potential at the site and minor renovations could go a long way to further Clemson University research efforts in addition to creating deeper connections with communities across Dominica.
The mission of the ATREC team is to research, analyze, and implement coordinated efforts in property maintenance and program expansion to create more global engagement opportunities for Clemson students, strengthen ties with communities in Dominica, and prepare for the long-term housing of interns on the island to support in the development of future projects. Despite this being the ATREC team’s first semester, they were able to accomplish many tasks. Their primary goal this semester was to gain more information about the facilities and the surrounding communities, in addition to assessing the facilities in person over the Spring Break trip. They have been able to attain large amounts of information from various sources, including meeting with university faculty, such as John Hains and Scott Templeton. Interviews with residents of the area have provided great community information, in addition research papers that have reviewed regarding the area. From this data, the group has established a course of action for the group including a variety of project areas and research platforms. The future plans for the group involve planning renovations on the Bee House to host interns who will sustain projects throughout the island. These renovations include splitting a large room into two separate intern quarters, installing a refrigerator, and establishing stable Wi-Fi for intern use. Many of the trails on the site also need to be cleared, and a bridge is needed over a ravine on the property to make the trail safer for visitors. Long-term goals of the group include renovation of the agricultural area to house vocational training camps for primary and secondary school children on the island, and the creation of a property museum and community center.