EDUCATION REPORT: Is the Time Right for a UW Edutourism Initiative?
The following two short-term activities are listed in Umpqua Watersheds’ strategic plan for our Education program:
“Conduct feasibility study re: infrastructure necessary for Educational Ecotourism.”
“Acquire a vehicle(s) for field trips and ecotourism in the Umpqua and beyond.”
As many of you have read in this newsletter, I spent the last decade of my career at Umpqua Community College designing, planning and conducting field-based classes in botany and ecology. These courses included a 6 day/5 night Field Botany tour of southwest Oregon and northern California, and a 10 day Ecology tour of the Baja Peninsula.
These courses were spectacularly successful, and top the list of my favorite experiences as a professor. Something special happens when human beings are removed from the trappings of modern life and transported into the heart of a living, breathing ecosystem. When immersed in wild nature, travelers see the world with new eyes and gain perspective on their place in the cosmos.
Most of us have vivid memories of “field trips” from our high school or college days, and I’d wager that those who do also remember much of what we learned on those outings. Excitement and novelty create the ideal brain chemistry for storing knowledge. In addition, learning in a community of fellow explorers deepens the experience.
Is the time right for making Umpqua Watersheds a home for educational ecotourism (a.k.a. “edutourism”)? Now that I am retired from full-time teaching, and having seen first-hand the life changing experiences of my students and other community members who helped us fill the seats and break us even, I am more committed than ever to see this happen in our community.
But what convinces me even more that the planets have aligned for this initiative is our newest AmeriCorps member, Robyn Bath-Rosenfeld. As noted elsewhere in this newsletter, Robyn not only has the K-12 experience to carry the great work of our former AmeriCorps forward, but she also has extensive experience in ecotourism in Trinidad, Ecuador and Costa Rica as well as in the US. I am very much looking forward to brainstorming with her and the Education team to get educational ecotourism up and running at UW.
If you have an interest in helping us make this happen, or think you might want to join us on an excursion, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.