Coming back from the Cook Islands I still had another week without class. However I had a field trip for one of my classes, Bio 375, Freshwater Ecology. The field trip was four days and took the entire class to the University’s field station at Cass up in the Southern Alps. We stayed in a wooden cabin that was built in the 60’s but was warm and friendly. About a stone’s throw away from the cabin was a very small, low building, set into the ground. This was the laboratory, with enough wet desk space for about 25 students. It fit our class perfectly.
On the first and second days we spent time exploring different types of freshwater streams, braided rivers, creeks, ponds, and lakes. At each we took benthic invertebrate samples and worked at identification and classification. On the evening of the second day we assembled into pre-organized teams of three and worked on experimental design – the ultimate goal of the trip.
On the third day, each team went out to a specific location in the field and ran their experiment, coming back and analyzing the data that night and working it into readable figures and tables. It was such a beautiful setting to work in, out in the mountains in New Zealand. I was constantly looking around me and marveling at the scenery. Here I was adventuring in the mountains – for class! It was hard work, and the write up that I will have to do on this experiment will take weeks. However the experience is fantastic and setting is unparalleled.
The fourth and final day consisted of packing and cleaning the cabin up, taking a field test, and then driving back to Christchurch.
If anyone has the chance, I would more than recommend taking a course that has a field trip option – it is more than worth it!