RBC stu­dents re­search en­vi­ron­ment in W.Va.,

Stu­dents ex­plored aquatic life, ecosys­tems in Monon­ga­hela Na­tional Forest

The Progress-Index Weekend - - FRONT PAGE - Con­trib­uted Re­port

PRINCE GE­ORGE — Richard Bland College of Wil­liam and Mary stu­dents, pro­fes­sors and staff re­cently ex­plored aquatic life and ecosys­tems in streams and rivers in the 900,000+ acre Monon­ga­hela Na­tional Forest to build aca­demic and life skills. This was part of a five-week project, Stream Ecosys­tem As­sess­ment, headed by Dr. Eric Miller, RBC As­sis­tant Pro­fes­sor of Bi­ol­ogy.

“Dif­fer­ent stu­dents learn in dif­fer­ent ways,” said Miller. “To be able to of­fer this type of learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment is crit­i­cal to a grow­ing school like Richard Bland College. We want to be at the fore­front of in­no­va­tion and new ideas.”

The goal of the pro­gram was to give RBC stu­dents the op­por­tu­nity to track ge­netic changes, move­ment, health and pop­u­la­tion of fish in an en­vi­ron­ment that is chang­ing due to el­e­va­tion and acid rain. But Miller said the trip was about more than “study­ing fish and bugs” but rather grow­ing as a group and ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a new learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment.

“I pur­posely pushed the stu­dents to their lim­its to show them they can do more than what they think they can, and pre­pare bet­ter than they think they can while learn­ing life skills that every­body needs,” said Miller.

Kala Emory, who grad­u­ated from Richard Bland College in May and will at­tend VCU this fall where she will study En­vi­ron­men­tal Sci­ence, said the ex­pe­ri­ence not only grew her pas­sion for the field, but also helped her learn crit­i­cal life skills.

“Not be­ing around any­thing for a week forced us to learn sur­vival skills,” said Emory. “We were on our own in the moun­tains for 14-hour days. We needed to pre­pare our­selves for ev­ery­thing from what clothes and shoes to wear to how to keep prop­erly nour­ished and hy­drated. I learned about ecosys­tems, but the life skills ex­pe­ri­ence was in­valu­able.”

“It was a great team build­ing ex­pe­ri­ence,” said RBC grad­u­ate Jas­min Wynn, who will at­tend Old Do­min­ion Univer­sity this fall. “It was a once in a life­time op­por­tu­nity for me.”

Destiny Grubbs, a sec­ond-year RBC stu­dent this fall, en­joyed both the bond­ing and ed­u­ca­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties. “The trip taught me how to work as part of a group,” she said. “With­out be­ing a Richard Bland College stu­dent, I wouldn’t have been able to have this learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence out­side the class­room.”

[CON­TRIB­UTED PHO­TOS]

Richard Bland College of Wil­liam and Mary stu­dents, pro­fes­sors and staff re­cently ex­plored aquatic life and ecosys­tems in streams and rivers in the 900,000-acre Monon­ga­hela Na­tional Forest in West Vir­ginia.

The goal of the pro­gram in the Monon­ga­hela Na­tional Forest in West Vir­ginia was to give RBC stu­dents the op­por­tu­nity to track ge­netic changes, move­ment, health and pop­u­la­tion of fish in an en­vi­ron­ment that is chang­ing due to el­e­va­tion and acid rain.

The field re­search was de­signed, in-part, to build aca­demic and life skills for RBC stu­dents.

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