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Alumni, Faculty Invest in Geoscience Field Camp to Educate Future Geologists

Thanks to a gift from Boise State University alumni and faculty, students earning geoscience degrees will soon have financial support to use toward their required field study courses.  Field study or field camp is a three-to-six-credit course, depending on degree emphasis, that provides students with hands-on fieldwork opportunities, often at a geological site far from campus.

Alumni Dana Hutchison, ’76, John Foudy, ’00, Mike Farley ’82, and Geosciences Department Associate Professor David Wilkins founded the Geosciences Field Study Fund at Boise State University. The fund is to help supplement the costs for field camp such as travel, per diem, equipment, and materials.

Field geology camps are a critical extension of the geoscience coursework, providing students with a skill set applicable to their career work, said Hutchison.

“In my 30-year career with a major petroleum company, I found that the most successful colleagues were those whose backgrounds included a field geology experience,” said Hutchison. “Field geology teaches practical, ‘big picture’ and spatial thinking.  Geologists need to think in three dimensions.  Field study has practical applications in 3-D seismic interpretation, 3-D visualization for reservoir modeling, simulation, well design, and a host of other applications.”

Megan Walker, a first-generation college student who is earning a geoscience degree with a hydrology emphasis, spent last summer at a field camp in Scotland where she gained hands-on experience studying the geology of the region.

“Working in the field inspired me to go further with my education, and as a result, I now want to eventually apply to graduate school where I can conduct more research,” Walker said.

For five weeks, Walker joined 32 other students from universities across the U.S. to conduct field camp research exploring how the environment and other factors impacted the region. She was the only student attending the geology camp from Boise State.

“My experience in Scotland pushed me out of my comfort zone to network with other students, but I gained confidence in my abilities as a geologist,” Walker said.

Student learning experiences, such as Walkers’, is beneficial to the education of geologists and critical to advancing the field of study, says Hutchison, adding that investing in these opportunities not only benefits students but also the communities where they will eventually be employed.

“Boise State serves the community of students, many of whom will graduate, find jobs and contribute to the economy of Boise, the surrounding area, and the state of Idaho,” he said.

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