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UWFox Offers Awesome ‘Field Experience’ to Yellowstone

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If you’ve ever dreamed about having a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see some of America’s most breathtaking landscapes and natural treasures, consider the University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley’s exciting field experience to Yellowstone Park and other historical sites in the region. As part of the campus’ new “Domestic Travel for Credit” program, UWFox is offering this unique trip as part of a five-week summer course that runs from July 9 through August 10, 2012.Andrew Shears

The field experience is being organized and led by two UWFox faculty members, Dr. Beth Johnson, assistant professor of Geology, and Dr. Andrew Shears, assistant professor of Geography.  Through Johnson’s and Shears’ efforts, the UWFox Geography and Geology departments are collaborating to offer the field experience as a college course that offers six transferable college credits (Geology 291 and Geography 291).  In addition to the college credits, the field experience and course is available to audit without credit.

The field experience includes visits to an array of regional National Park Service properties, including Yellowstone National Park, Devil’s Tower, Jackson Hole and the Grand Tetons in Wyoming; Mt. Rushmore, the Crazy Horse monument, Wind Cave and Jewel Cave in South Dakota; Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota; an optional visit to the Craters of the Moon in Idaho; and the Little Big Horn area in Montana.

"One of the unique aspects of this field experience is its interdisciplinary nature,” Shears explained.  “We’ll be examining physical geography, landforms, geology and climate extensively, but we'll also be looking at the region's culture, history and environmental issues.  Combining geology and geography on this trip will help us provide students with more complete understanding of the region."Beth Johnson

"From a more cultural perspective,” Shears said, “We'll be studying the historical settlement of the region, the history of preserving sites with the National Park Service, how events and people are memorialized at Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse and Little Bighorn, how tourism spurs the local economies, and even cultural interpretations of a few Native American sacred sites like Bear Butte in South Dakota."

According to Johnson, “The greatest amount of time during the trip will be spent at Yellowstone. We’ll have some guided tours as well as time for personal exploration and learning experiences.”

Students and participants will have the opportunity to study the effects of glaciers, rock formations, and examine volcanic materials in order to better understand how volcanic eruptions have influenced and shaped the geology and geography of the region. 

“Whenever people visit national parks and see the array of beauty and natural wonders, they often have questions about the ‘how’s and why’s these things came to be.  With this field experience, they can learn the reasons why things look the way they do. It’s more meaningful when professionals can be on hand to answer questions, teach and explain why these naturally beautiful things are the way they are,” Johnson said.

In addition, information will be shared about how the local climate has played an important role in the development and distribution of prairie flora and fauna. The effects of the local microclimates on area botany within the regions various altitudes will be studied and analyzed.

The combined course and Yellowstone field experience cost is $2,740 per person and covers tuition, and related costs: round trip transportation by vans, all meals, and lodging for the entire field experience.  Most of the lodging will be primarily tent camping.

While the field experience is three weeks in length, the course is five weeks long. Students taking the course for the six college credits will have two weeks after the field experience to complete the required course work project. Those auditing the course are under no obligation to complete the post-field experience project.

Interested students and participants must enroll by June 1, 2012, with a class and group size limited to 16 students.

For more information about the Yellowstone field experience and course, contact UWFox’s Carol Letter, at 920-832-2636 or email her at carol.letter@uwc.edu. You can also visit the Yellowstone Fieldstudy page.



Posted 5/14/2012