The Field Station concept was proposed in 1995 by Dr. Ambrose O. Anoruo, a Professor at South Carolina State University, in a Capacity Building Grant that was funded by the USDA. Following the approval of the concept by DOE – Savannah River Operations Office to use the Savannah River Site as a site for the Field Station, the President of South Carolina State University, Dr. Leroy Davis invited regional Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), underrepresented Institutions (MIs) and other majority institutions in the southeast to join in the formation of the Savannah River Environmental Sciences Field Station.
On November 22, 1996 the Savannah River Site hosted the inaugural conference of the Environmental Sciences Field Station at the Savannah River Site. In attendance, were faculty from HBCUs and other colleges and universities in the states of North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. The faculty attendees were appointed by their respective Presidents. The Field Station is now a registered member of the Organization of Biological Field Stations (OBFS) and is the first Field Station in the country devoted entirely to underrepresented undergraduate research and education in science, mathematics and engineering.
The Savannah River Environmental Sciences Field Station won the NATIONAL HAMMER AWARD in 1999 and the GOVERNMENT SEAMLESS AWARD in 2000. In order to manage and coordinate the activities of the Field Station, a Steering Committee was formed. The Steering Committee inaugurated the Savannah River Environmental Sciences Field Station Advisory Board. The Advisory Board has two officers, one chairperson and a secretary. The Savannah River Environmental Sciences Field Station Advisory Board provides recommendations for the future direction, development, management, and coordination of undergraduate educational activities of the Field Station while the Steering Committee is charged with the execution of the recommendations of the Advisory Board.
The Savannah River Environmental Sciences Field Station started with a two- phase plan to achieve its goals. Phase one of the plan includes one-day field activities, designed for hands-on experience, in which undergraduate students visit the field station with their instructors to collect field specimens for laboratory studies and analyses later at their institutions. More than 1500 undergraduate students from the member institutions have visited the Field Station under this program. Phase two involves extended semester and summer courses that are offered at the Field Station by faculty in the different areas of environmental science, agriculture, engineering and natural resource management.
Field Station programs are not only designed to increase science literacy of students, they also aid in recruitment and retention of underrepresented students through career redirection. The first multi-week courses to implement the long-term goals of the Field Station were offered in the summer of 1998. In the summer of 2000 seven undergraduate courses were taught at the Station. Graduate courses leading to the certificate in Environmental Monitoring and Restoration began in the Spring of 2001.