Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Ecuador Adventure Guest Blog Series 8/8

Sternberg Museum of Natural History Education Director, David Levering, lead a spring break study abroad trip of seven Fort Hays State University undergraduate students to mainland Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands.  The students documented their adventures and explorations during the trip, and these travelogues will be featured here through a series of eight posts (with a finally reflection from David). Enjoy!

Ecuador and Galapagos Islands Spring Break wrap-up
By: David Levering

Paddle-boarding around a bay at Isla San Cristobal
Running the FHSU Study Abroad trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands was an incredible highlight of my career as an educator. Having an emphasis on experiential outdoor science education, there are few if any better places I can think of than these magnificent islands to show students the processes of evolution in action. The role of these islands in the history of science only adds to their mystique as an educational destination of choice for anyone interested in biology, evolution, or the development of human thought. Evolution is, for good reason, considered one of the greatest single ideas in human history. To visit and explore the Galapagos, a place so closely tied with this great idea, was a privilege for myself and my students.
Sparkling Violet Ear Hummingbird, one of 13
hummingbird species we saw in Ecuador

Group shot at Tortuga Bay on Isla Santa Cruz
I must take a moment to acknowledge the exceptional group of FHSU undergraduates that joined this adventure. Having a good group of students makes an enormous difference in the success of a trip such as this one. I count myself fortunate to have had an excellent group of bright, hardy, enthusiastic participants. If you are reading this, and have not yet perused the previous blog posts by the students, I encourage you to do so. They each did an excellent job communicating their experiences, and each post is well worth the read.
Nazca Boobies at Kicker Rocker, a fantastic deep-water
snorkeling spot we visited

Stick insect from the cloud forest we biked
through in Ecuador
I am excited to be working on a student trip for spring break of 2017, this time to the Amazon Rainforest. This jungle continues our theme of locations relevant to the history of science. In the Amazon, Alfred Russel Wallace, a contemporary of Darwin who nearly proposed the theory of evolution first, spent many years collecting and studying wildlife specimens. His rigor as a field worker remain remarkable and inspiring, and is one of many excellent reasons our next trip will take us into this great wilderness. Most of the trip details are still being worked out, but we are well on our way. I expect we will formally announce the trip this coming August.

Thanks for reading, and go Tigers!

Oh, if you haven’t yet seen our highlights video from the trip, go watch it right now because it’s awesome!

Watch a video with highlights from the Ecuador/Galapagos adventure!

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