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General Ecology Field Trip

Fall 2011

Each year, Dr. Grover has taken his General Ecology class to New Mexico for an extended field trip.  In alternate years, the general ecology class combines with Dr. Kasner’s Vertebrate Zoology class for this excursion.  2011 was a special year because we added a day to the trip by traveling to Glorieta Conference Center on Wednesday, Sept. 28th, so that we could spend on full day (Thursday) in the Tesuque Watersheds near Santa Fe, NM.  The class spent an entire day hiking in the Aspen and Mixed Conifer forests at and above 10,000 feet elevation.  Students collected tree cores and other data from sites where Dr. Grover conducted his doctoral research over 30 years ago.


The second day of the trip (Friday) we traveled south to the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge where we toured several major  research sites sponsored by the National Science Foundation’s Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) program.  Doug Moore, a research scientist with the Sevilleta LTER, provided expert analysis of the programs underway.  Lunch was shared at Cibola Springs; a very special site for a semi-arid grassland, with running water and unique plant and animal habitat.  Following the Sevilleta visit, the group traveled to Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge where we viewed several species of water fowl and other wildlife.


Friday and Saturday evenings were spent at the partially renovated Math and Sciences Field Station in Cloudcroft, NM.  On Saturday morning the class hiked in the vicinity of Bluff Springs campsite south of Cloudcroft and visited the Sunspot Observatory.  The field portion of the trip came to a close at White Sands National Monument where students slid in the sand and dined on hot dogs and snore’s while watching the sun set and the stars reveal themselves to all creation under the NM skies.


All-in-all, this trip provided an in-depth study of high elevation forests; semi-arid shrublands and grasslands; and the desert environment.  Daily student-led devotionals focused on the Psalm 104 and Psalm 23, reflecting on how their natural environment influenced the authors of those writings.


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