Oceanography Students Gain First-Hand Experience in Mexico

Seven students in Associate Professor of Chemistry Jeff Ashley’s Oceanography Field Experience class recently traveled to Yucatan, Mexico, to explore the area’s coastal ecosystem and learn more about ancient Maya culture.

121407story_mex1.jpg“I looked forward to Dr. Ashley’s Mexico trip all semester,” said Environmental & Conservation Biology sophomore Patti Wetzel.  “It was jam-packed with all sorts of activities, from exploring underground cavern systems to seeing the ancient Maya ruins and more.  It was tons of fun and I learned a lot too.”

Held Dec. 7 through 11,  the five-day trip was led by Prof. Ashley, Associate Professor of Biology Anne Bower and Assistant Professor of Chemistry Matt Milkevitch.  Together, the School of Science and Health faculty members guided students Kaitlyn Bendik ’09, Environmental & Conservation Biology; Sarah Deater ’11, Environmental & Conservation Biology; Stephanie Filymer ’09, Biology; Kelly Niven ’09, Biology; Kelly Staerk ’10, Environmental & Conservation Biology; Carolyn Steinberg ’10, Environmental & Conservation Biology; and Wetzel through snorkeling and kayaking activities, as well as cave and jungle explorations.

“The students were a great group to travel with,” said Prof. Bower.  “While snorkeling at a private coral reef, we identified corals, discussed turtle conservation, and observed freshwater fish and wading birds.”  A special highlight of the trip for students was their visit to Chichen Itza, an archaeological site built by the Maya civilization, considered to be one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

“The trip allowed students to gain first-hand experience in oceanography, conservation biology, geology and history,” said Prof. Ashley, who organized a similar excursion for students in 2005.  “They truly learned a lot and I hope to organize more activities like this in the future.”

Photo: School of Science and Health faculty members and students enrolled in Associate Professor of Chemistry Jeff Ashley’s Oceanography Field Experience class climb a Maya ruin during an educational excursion to Yucatan, Mexico, this December.

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