Every summer, North Lake College students and faculty travel to Hawaii for a Field Studies program of classes. After returning from this year’s trip, NLC photography professor Kate Jenkins writes:
29 North Lake College students just returned from two weeks in Hawaii earning 16 credit hours in science, art, and physical education. They visited the islands of Hawaii, Oahu, and Kauai.
In addition to their field studies work, students were involved with two separate restoration projects as part of their service learning. They helped to remove invasive plants from Hawaiian rain forests and to plant native plants in their place. By planting the native plants they were also able to help sustain the population of the Hawaiian Goose.
This year was unique in that our students observed an active volcano shooting lava into the air and they were also able to study and touch an octopus (which they released after catching).
What does a typical day of field studies look like for these students? Students are often in the field hiking and gathering rocks, snorkeling and collecting sea creatures, or studying the plants around them by 7am. Everything learned is a tangible experience; students will touch, listen, and even sometimes taste what they are studying. They visit the varied climates of Hawaii such as mountainous areas where the temperatures drop below freezing to the warm beaches where they snorkel and gather sea critters. Their classroom may also involve hiking through several pristine rain forests or stargazing at 14,000 feet. Though there is a break for lunch, (and even a day devoted solely to student driven activities such as kayaking or surfing), many days don’t end until 9 or 10pm at night.
Upon returning to the mainland students find that they have a better understanding of how they fit into the delicate ecosystem of Hawaii and how they can help to preserve and protect the land. Students are also confronted with the reality that the land is closely tied to the culture of the Hawaiians and with this connection comes a new respect and understanding that they will hopefully apply their own environment in Dallas area.
If you are interested in joining the Hawaiian Field Studies for the 2018 trip (which will take place in June) please email Hawaii@dcccd.edu. They start taking deposits in October. Check out student photography from the trip hanging in the lower gallery at North Lake from mid-August to mid-September.