Thursday, May 22, 2014

Field trip opens doors of natural resources management to UAF students

The 10-day natural resources management field trip takes UAF students beyond the textbook and delves into the grit, grime and glory of the world of Alaska' resources.

This year's trip, May 12-21, was no exception, taking 15 students on a whirlwind trip around the state to see the resources and meet the people who manage them.

Amelia Sikes gets ready to tour the GVEA power plant in Healy.
From Fairbanks to Seward and points between and beyond, the class seeks to extend learning beyond the classroom. "Some things you can't learn unless you see it and meet the people," said Dean and Director Stephen Sparrow.

The field trip was implemented in the 1980s and has been a required course for undergrads ever since. "We wanted our students to have a better understanding of resources in Alaska and how they are managed," Sparrow said. "They get to see everything from agriculture to fishing to mining and management of public lands. Speakers share about their jobs and issues and controversies in their fields."

Trip leader Associate Professor Peter Fix said the field trip gives students exposure to issues they get introduced to in the classroom. "It makes it real and provides tangible examples of current issues."

Students keep journals throughout their travels and at the end of the trip write an essay.

David Betchkal, soundscape engineer at Denali National Park, points out places on a park map.
Student Tom Cheney said, "This was the best class I ever had. I recommend it to everyone. I wouldn't change a thing."

Andrea Perezgao started the trip less than enthusiastic. "I didn't think I would like it," she said. "I wasn't feeling it. But it turned out so much better than I expected. I liked everything. Honestly, I didn't stop learning day and night for 10 days, not only about the environment but the people. I made a ton of friends."

Emma Rennard surveys the Nenana River.
Other than some fellow travelers who could have used deodorant, Perezgao had no complaints. "We learned to get along and communicate better and be open to other people's opinions," she said.

Amelia Sikes said the yaks in Delta Junction, the orcas observed at Seward and the animals she saw at the Alaska Sea Life Center were the most wonderful parts. "Climbing Mt. Marathon in Seward was so much fun," she said. "All of it was good and making friendships was really good.

"This whole trip opened my eyes to the reality of NRM. We learned it in class but seeing it and talking to people who do real stuff makes me feel like what I'm doing is important."

Students paused for a photo at Usibelli Coal  Mine.
NRM 290 places visited:
Harding Lake
Rika's Roadhouse,
Delta Clearwater River
Northern Lights Dairy
Green's Pellet Mill
Alaska Interior Game Ranch
Kaspari Farms
Clearwater River Flood Control Project
Matanuska Experiment Farm
Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
Kenai National Wildlife Refuge
Russian River Campground
Juneau Creek
Cooper Creek Campground
Quartz Creek Campground
Exig Glacier
Kenai Fjords Visitor Center
Kenai Fjords National Park boat tour
tour of Matanuska-Susitna area
BP, Anchorage
Alaska Chip Factory
Alaska Railroad
Valley of the Moon park
Bell's Nursery
Denali National Park
GVEA coal fired power plant, Healy
Usibelli Coal Mine

Amelia Sikes and Jessica Carter feed a yak at Kaspari Farms in Delta Junction.

(Thanks to everyone who took the time to meet with UAF students.)

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