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Studying on the mountain

Published: Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, March 21, 2012 21:03

Those inspired by the call of the wild may consider a new program that allows students to live and learn in the heart of the Adirondacks for a semester.

            The course, “Understanding the Park,” will be open this fall to upper-level undergraduate and graduate students through the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF).

A first-of-its-kind offering, students will have the opportunity to earn 16 credits while living in cabins at ESF’s Newcomb Campus located in the 15,000-acre Huntington Wildlife Forest.   

            “We saw it as an opportunity to create a powerful experience,” said Paul Hai, who coordinates programs for ESF and will serve as one of the course’s semester instructors.

The SUNY program builds on a previous academic relationship with UVM – professors from both universities have collaborated in the past to create learning programs – and will stress a multidisciplinary approach, combining natural sciences, conservation, ethics and leadership, Hai said.

“Often we find that students who are pursuing careers in resource management come with a fantastic background in a specific area, but not a parallel exposure to [other areas.]”

            Students will be exposed to biodiversity within the forest, visit active logging sites to learn about industrial logging and study the park from a cultural perspective centering on trips to the Adirondack Museum.

Hai said he hopes the class will gain a broad understanding of the park through both a cultural and economic context. The semester will culminate in an independent project addressing questions of what the park is and how an ethical framework can be created to manage competing interests within the forests.

            “We see it as a semester abroad,” he said. “Everyone recognizes that this is a pretty unique opportunity.”

            Senior Ashley Koetsier, an environmental science and forestry double-major and president of the UVM Society of American Foresters, said she liked what the program has to offer and thought it was important to be exposed to the perspectives and learning approaches of a different university.

Koetsier said she would be interested in pursuing the semester in the Adirondacks if she wasn’t graduating in the spring.

            “I definitely support it,” she said. “Any kind of progressive learning, I’m into. Forestry is the type of thing you can’t learn in a book; the more hands-on learning the better.”

Registration is on a first come, first serve basis and is limited. Students interested in learning more about the program should contact Hai at pbhai@esf.edu.

 

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