Term III Students Head into the Wilds of Alaska

August 16 2016
Category: Academics


Term III at Elmira College provides students a deeper look into new topics and subjects through experiential learning and travel. This spring, Dr. Corey Stilts, Associate Professor of Chemistry and Dr. Betsy Smith, Assistant Professor of Biochemisty, led a group of Term III students to Alaska. The three-week course looked at the wildlife ecology and conservation on the Kenai Peninsula on the southern coast of Alaska.

While in Alaska, each of the students focused on a specific topic area. These topics were presented to the class and ranged from the effects of volcanoes on the Alaskan habitat and the impact of the Pebble Mine Project on salmon ecology, to the ecological implications of building the Susitna Dam, and many others.

Students heard from various speakers on both the pros and cons of the Pebble Mine Project (an initiative to mine porphyry copper deposit) and the proposed construction of the Susitna Dam. A U.S. government representative also met with students to discuss the Arctic Policy.

Outside of the classroom, the students took in the sites, and participated in community service projects. One project focused on combatting erosion on the bank of the Kenai River. Another day was spent visiting with local school children and performing a science experiment with them.

Other student experiences and highlights from this Term III trip included:

  • Halibut and salmon fishing
  • Iditarod dog sled riding
  • Kayaking in the Pacific near Homer, AK
  • Rafting down the Kenai River
  • Visiting multiple museum and cultural centers including the Kasilof Regional Historical Association Museum and Soldotna Homestead Museum
  • Hiking to the Grewingk Glacier
  • Whale watching and going on a sea life cruise
  • Visiting wildlife and sea life conservation centers
  • Panning for gold
  • Visiting multiple forest fire locations and learning how to prevent and reduce the spread of forest fires

To learn more and see photos from this Term III trip to Alaska, check out the student blog: http://ecalaska16.blogspot.com/