Saddleback offers field study opportunities

BORN TO BE WILD

If you have a sense of adventure, a love for the outdoors and a curiosity about our world, the Field Study Courses offered by Saddleback and IVC may appeal to you.

Several times a semester, the departments of Biology, Horticulture, Geology and Marine Sciences offer off-campus trips that last from three to 14 days and takes students to some of the most exotic locations California and the Southwest have to offer.

Recent Saddleback trips took students to Death Valley National Park, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Saguaro National Park, and the Mojave Desert National Preserve. Marine Sciences have offered a sailing expedition that takes students sailing to Catalina and Santa Barbara Islands. Upcoming trips include the Grand Canyon, Yosemite and a swing through some of the most renowned parks like Joshua Tree and Yellowstone.

These are not passive trips where students are escorted by trained tour guides and sit in air-conditioned buses. You are in the world you travel to, interacting with nature first-hand and participating in every activity: pitching a campsite, cooking fireside meals, and hiking extensively through the areas under study.

When sailing, you perform the normal duties of an able-bodied seaman- light maintenance, standing watches, galley duties and sail work. The days begin early and can go well into the evening Dinner always tastes great and your sleeping bag seems like a down filled mattress.

The last trip of this semester was to the Mojave Desert. The trip was co-sponsored by the Biology and Geology Departments and led by Professors Peter Borella, Jim Repka and Tony Huntley.

Our journey encompassed some of the most spectacular landscape and flora of the region. It included a visit to the Granite Mountains Desert Research Center, a co-operative scientific effort on the part of UC Riverside and the State of California.

In the words of Director Jim Andre, “The Center represents a crucial link between the world of the past and the world of the present.

At the station, we have experiments that measure a tremendous range of ecological variables. Because of our location we can preserve the data integrity of our tests, and use the information we gather to create a more accurate picture of how the geologic forces shaped this area and make predictions about future changes.”

As with any outdoor venture, advance preparation is vital. The pre-orientation class details what is required and that information is based on years of experience. There can be changes in the temperature, weather and wind.

A shower is often unavailable and a rest stop is a walk to somewhere away from the group. You will probably come home a little tired, possibly footsore, and definitely ready for a hot bath and, possibly a good steak before bed. But, you will never regret taking the trip or forget the miracles that you saw.

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