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Organizing and Leading Successful International Geological Field Trips for Students: It’s Not as Hard as You Think

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Organizing and Leading Successful International Geological Field Trips for Students: It’s Not as Hard as You Think. Dr. Jim Reynolds Division of Environmental Studies, Mathematics, and Natural Sciences Brevard College Brevard, NC 28712. This presentation is dedicated to Dottie Stout.

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slide1

Organizing and Leading Successful International Geological Field Trips for Students: It’s Not as Hard as You Think

Dr. Jim Reynolds

Division of Environmental Studies, Mathematics, and Natural Sciences

Brevard College

Brevard, NC 28712

slide3

Getting the trip to make:

    • Ways to overcome the initial sticker shock that kills the interest of many students.
    • Always a problem at small schools and many state institutions.
    • Administration reluctance
slide4

Don’t be afraid of the trip not making

    • Failure is an option
    • It happens for numerous reasons.
    • Can be mitigated with a back-up trip
      • Hawai’i is a good back-up.
        • Exotic to mainlanders
        • Easy to organize
        • Relatively safe
slide5

Itinerary:

  • Choose a destination that students know from their Geology courses or a theme with high sex appeal.
    • Volcanoes
    • Glaciers
    • Tectonics
    • Fossils
    • Geoarchaeology
slide6

Itinerary:

  • If possible, choose a place you have visited before but don’t be intimidated by the unknown.
    • Your innate knowledge of Geology will carry you through.
    • Your enthusiasm at seeing new things and analyzing them geologically will be infectious.
    • You will be better prepared than any undergraduate.
  • Participating graduate students who know more than you about certain topics will be honored to serve as co-leaders for those days in which their expertise is valuable.
slide7

Itinerary

    • Choose a destination that students will be able to afford or camp if they can’t afford it.
      • Costa Rica
      • Patagonia
      • Iceland
      • Italy
      • Bolivia
      • Greece

Berg boys Brian Hynek and Garrett Timmerman

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Make the trip a component of a regularly-scheduled course offering

    • trains administrators
    • builds hopes for future participation in minds of students
slide10

At Brevard, I teach

    • Geology 270: Field Study in Geology: _________
  • The blank is filled with different topics:
    • Geology & Ecology of Costa Rican Volcanoes— Field trip to Costa Rica
    • Oceanic Volcanic Islands—Field trip to Hawai’i
    • Geology and Archaeology of the Mediterranean Basin—Field Trips to Italy and Greece
    • Geology and Archaeology of Mesoamerica (2006)—field trip planned to Bolivia and Peru.
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Success of the course attributed to:

    • fulfills lab science requirement
    • 4 credit hours
      • meets once/week for 2 hours + 2 hours for trip
    • can be taken more than once
    • interdisciplinary/cross-listed
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Students are evaluated based on:

    • Power Point presentation on a topic related to the course theme
    • Web pages they create about the trip
    • Journal of the trip
    • Midterm and final exams of class discussions
    • Participation points on trip
slide13

GEOL 271: Geology Field Experience

    • For students who don’t need lab science credit but who want to travel.
    • A 2-credit P/F course that only requires participation on the field trip
    • Offered to students from other institutions in the Appalachian College Association
slide14

At a small school, interdisciplinary themes work well to attract students:

    • Geology & Archaeology (and History and Art History)
    • Geology and Ecology

Herculaneum with Vesuvius looming in the background.

slide15

Sponsorship: Helps with advertising and possibly with funding.

  • Colleges
  • College associations
  • Professional organizations
  • Travel agencies
  • Private individuals
  • Companies
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Awaiting word on an Appalachian College Association Berger Foundation Grant

    • Interdisciplinary team covering Geology, Rain Forest Ecology, Latin American History, and Latin American Literature
    • Trip would be a W to E traverse at 24º S across Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, and part of Brazil.
    • 4 faculty/14 students
    • Partly based on last summer’s Berger Grant trip to Bolivia.
slide17

Use a local travel agent in the country you are visiting.

    • American travel agents generally serve as middlemen and drive up the cost of the trip.
    • Local agents know the territory and can find excellent deals on food and lodging.
    • If used a second time, they are willing to find steeper discounts.
slide18

Finding the right travel agent

    • Site visits are best.
    • Recommendations of previous clients
    • Internet searches
slide19

Travel Accomodations

    • Probably the most important aspect for future considerations
    • This is what students remember the most.
  • Students travel on their stomachs; keep them well fed and they will follow you anywhere.

Solfatara, Campi Flegrei The Gate to Hades

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The trip may be the most significant experience in the student’s life to date (or ever).

    • helps formulate career decisions
    • high retention rate
    • builds strong friendships
  • It is also often the first international experience.
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