Over the River and Through the Woods–literally. . .

Do you remember, when you were growing up, how school had field trips? Field trips were game changers because they took the monotony out of sitting in a desk all day taking notes. Can you imagine a game-changing class that had field trips almost every week?

Ecology is that game-changing class, an academically rigorous yet surprisingly exciting class with a one-of-a-kind lab experience. Remmel, it seems like all you talk about are labs. Yes, home-slice; maybe it’s cause I enjoy science classes because of labs (Zoology and Physics). Anyway, back to the subject at hand — ecology meets four times a week with one of those being a lab, and yes— the lab is usually a field trip.

Every ecology lab is an adventure. I remember being swarmed by mosquitoes in a delineated wetland, and that time I was waist-deep in a river measuring its current’s velocity. There was also another time during our study on stream wildlife and ran into not one, not two, but three copperhead snakes.

Disclaimer: We students had already been previously warned to exercise extreme caution in our field studies because of potentially dangerous wildlife, but these encounters are usually unlikely. Also, the faculty of PCC have been well-trained to handle these situations (talking about you, Mr. Bomske). Furthermore, they have been prepared to provide immediate first aid on the field/lab should it be needed. In other words, you can stop calling your lawyer.

Yes, it was indeed quite the experience for me. But rather than freaking out and screaming all over the place, we biology majors simply expressed, “Ah! A snake! EVERYONE GET YOUR PHONES OUT!” Social media is gonna blow up for days! Isn’t the 21st century wonderful?

There was another field trip when we went to the the Pascagoula River in Mississippi and the Mississippi Sandhill Crane Refuge. We left in the early-morning hours of eight o’ clock for Mississippi. If it were not for a certain classmate of mine who brought Chick-fil-A biscuits for the trip, I surely would have succumbed to hangriness (If you’re reading this, thank you for that). When we got to the Pascagoula River, we ventured out on a boat and saw a ton of amazing things: awesome trees, jumping fish, and yes, alligators. From there we went to the Mississippi sandhill crane refuge that featured a beautiful pine savannah. There was so much stuff to just take in!

So, that’s the class? A bunch of field trips? No, the field trips supplement what we learned in the class. That’s what a lab is all about. Ecology is the study of how organisms interact with their environment. So in class we learn about how the animals and plants all interact with their surrounding environment—be it the rivers of Brazil, the deserts of Tunisia, or even the Everglades of Florida—this class is packed with information, and PCC selected the right person to teach this class (that’s your shoutout, Miss Watson). My ecology professor really knows her information. We would be in the middle of a wetland, and she’ll say, “This plant is Panicum verrucosum.” To which I would nod my head and pretend to know what she's talking about. In all seriousness though, Miss Watson truly is one of the many faculty members of PCC committed to academic excellence.

This class, although challenging, has opened my mind to how I see the environment and its influence on the wildlife. Looking at wildlife has never been the same: I could be watching a National Geographic documentary on dirt and think, “Huh, the species of bacteria have a trophic cascade relationship.” It must be the hours of studying I had to put in. Future prospects of this class, I highly recommend you take this class and explore the world around you.

Miss Watson, this post was inspired by you.

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