14 students from Eastern Connecticut State University recently traveled to Idaho and Wyoming as part of a geological field excursion with Environmental Earth Science professors Dickson Cunningham and Stephen Nathan. As one of Eastern’s “global field courses,” this trip provided a unique and valuable learning experience to students by allowing them to apply what they learned in a classroom in a real-world scenario. “The trip was a great success in terms of education, adventure and fun,” Cunningham said. “These field courses constitute a new initiative in the Environmental Earth Science Department to incorporate additional geoscientific field training into the undergraduate curriculum.”
Students were able to explore some of America’s most fascinating terrain for geological research. In addition to analyzing geothermal and geological features, they explored the stunning scenery and wildlife of Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks and the surrounding mountain ranges. The students were also able to observe the raw and rugged landscape of the Craters of the Moon National Monument, where they saw the effects of volcanism firsthand. The group also travelled to Idaho’s Lost River Range, a mountain range that features seven peaks over 12,000 feet in elevation, where they observed how earthquakes and the subsequent landslides shaped the region.
“This course enabled us to see textbook examples of geological processes and features that you can’t see without traveling,” student Brian Wicks said. “Getting to see these examples in person as opposed to only in the classroom really helped the cognitive process and my understanding of the subject.”
This trip also offered many unique experiences to students aside from their research. While conducting their research, students came face-to-face with a variety of wildlife, including rattlesnakes, bison and moose. They also had to weather rainstorms, hailstorms and even a blizzard at 10,000 feet!