Monday, November 2, 2009

Outdoor Semester Heads West

Dr. Elizabeth Latosi-Sawin, Director of Outdoor Semester, returned on October 8 with seven MWSU students , three faculty and one community member from a 13-day field trip out West . The theme of this year’s Outdoor Semester is “Energy and Life.” Students are taking courses in environmental literature, sustainable energy, research writing, psychology, and fitness and wellness.

Students and faculty investigated the costs and benefits of wind, solar, geothermal, hydroelectric power, fossil fuels and nuclear energy, traveling to the Land Institute in Kansas, the National Renewable Energy Lab in Boulder, Colorado; Rocky Mountain Wood Pellet Company in Walden, Wyoming; Oahe Hydroelectric Plant in South Dakota, and Fort Calhoun Nuclear Power Station in Nebraska.

“Developing alternative forms of energy requires a fundamental shift in the way human beings consider their position in the natural world,” according to Sawin. “That’s why literature is such an important part of the solution to the environmental problems besetting our planet and that’s why we also spent time in the Rocky Mountains, Yellowstone National Park, the Big Horn Mountains and the Black Hills of South Dakota.”

“On our way we had rare opportunities to see big horn sheep in the Wind River Canyon, hear and see bugling elk in Rocky Mountain National Park, be passed by a herd of close to one hundred bison in Slough Valley, see and hear wolves from the Agate, Cottonwood, and Druid Peak packs in Yellowstone, and see a moose and her calf in Shoshone National forest.”

“Our stay in Yellowstone was cut short by one day because of snow,” Sawin said, “but we managed to stay just ahead of the snowstorms. We went from t-shirts at Bear Lake, to parkas at the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, to boots in the Black Hills.”

The Outdoor Semester students were Leah Voltmer, Josh Swindler, Lindsay O’Neal, Ryan Persinger, Ericka Kelly, Samantha Hunt-Viehland, and Kurtis Morrison. The community member was Frank Stanley. The faculty were Dr. Sawin, Dr. Ken Dagel, Mr. Dana Andrews, and Mr. Jim Grechus. Dr. Sawin hopes you enjoy her photos.

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