Becoming a “wetlander” in three weeks (PLE final day)
Today was the last day of a course in wetland ecology and management at the Pymatuning Laboratory of Ecology. The students spent a few hours taking the first part of the final exam in the classroom, and then we went into a nearby wetland for the second part of the exam. I think they appreciated the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge in the field, and they certainly were happy to have one last chance to slosh around. And today, it was the instructor that got stuck in muck up to his thighs. They definitely appreciated that. Luckily no one got a picture.
Based on my survey on the the first day of class, most of the students had only a vague idea of what they were getting into when we began three weeks ago. However, today they proudly emerged from the
swamp course as true “wetlanders.” The class was challenging, as it is a semester-long course packed into three weeks… 15-days of total intellectual and physical (and sometimes emotional?) immersion in wetlands. However, this group of five students rose to the challenge, and I was consistently impressed by their dedication, positive attitude, and desire to learn.
Every class develops its own distinctive, collective personality, and this class was certainly no exception. In fact, the diversity of personalities and perspectives among these five students was particularly striking, yet they really came together as a group. They were a fun bunch, and I am going to miss their positive energy and humor. I sincerely enjoyed getting to know every one of them, and I wish them each the best of luck in whatever awaits them next. The dedication of John Eastman’s book “Swamp and Bog,” comes to mind as I say goodbye to all of them…
To all bog trotters, fen gazers, ditch probers, pond watchers, river rats, and swamp things; the marsh-mellowed, hip-booted, and cold-toed lovers and preservers of our North American wetlands. Look closely, tread lightly.
Field-based ecological courses are absolutely the way to learn. You can’t have a learning experience like this solely in the classroom, and you certainly can’t experience it online.
Some final “fun” pictures are below, including some of my favorite quotes from the three weeks….