Organizing and Leading Successful International Geological Field Trips
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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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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



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  • Getting the trip to make: Field Trips

    • 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


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  • Don’t be afraid of the trip not making Field Trips

    • 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


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  • Itinerary: Field Trips

  • Choose a destination that students know from their Geology courses or a theme with high sex appeal.

    • Volcanoes

    • Glaciers

    • Tectonics

    • Fossils

    • Geoarchaeology


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  • Itinerary: Field Trips

  • 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.


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  • Itinerary Field Trips

    • 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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  • At Brevard, I teach offering

    • 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: offering

    • 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: offering

    • 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


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  • GEOL 271: Geology Field Experience offering

    • 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


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Herculaneum with Vesuvius looming in the background.


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Sponsorship: Helps with advertising and attract students: 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.


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

    • 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.


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  • Travel Accomodations Foundation Grant

    • 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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