The Hampshire College Farm is saddened by the passing of Ray Coppinger, internationally-renowned animal behaviorist and founding faculty member of both Hampshire College and the Hampshire College Farm. As many of you may know, the Hampshire College Farm originated in the late 70s as a research facility centered around a variety of aspects of raising sheep. One prominent part of the research involved animal behavior – studying livestock guard dogs as a means of non-lethal predator control. Although this research has long since concluded, the Farm has grown tremendously since then, both as an academic/research facility and as a producer of local, sustainably-grown food.
One former Hampshire student of Ray’s, Kathryn Lord (currently a post-doc at UMass Medical School studying animal behavior as related to genetics and evolution), echoed a common sentiment when she said, “Being one of Ray’s students had kind of a family feeling; if you were lucky enough to get Ray as a mentor, you had a friend for life. He took you in. We would all hang out in the ARF (Animal Research Facility) and play dominos and he would tell stories. Ray went on a lot of trips and was an amazing story-teller. You wouldn’t believe that the stories were true, unless you happened to have been there, in which case you would know that he wasn’t embellishing. Ray influenced every aspect of my professional life; everyone I met, Ray had a hand in. He had amazing outreach to so many people. When I started at Hampshire, I wanted to be a marine biologist; then I took Animal Behavior with Ray…. I would not be on this path without him.”
Thank you, Ray, for all of your dedication and hard work on behalf of Hampshire College and the Farm. To learn more about Ray and his life and research, or to share photos and stories, please go to Hampshire’s “In memoriam” site, which can be found here: http://sites.hampshire.edu/rcoppinger/.
A full history of the Farm, written by Ray and Lorna Coppinger in a chapter of the book Fields of Learning, can be found here: https://www.hampshire.edu/farm/farm-mission-and-vision.