CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Nine students from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi departed on a journey into some of the nation’s most beautiful parks and natural landmarks to fulfill requirements for a Maymester Field Biology class. The course was co-taught by Drs. Lee Smee and Kirk Cammarata, Associate Professors in the College of Science and Engineering. The voyage took the group to West Texas and New Mexico from May 14-23, to directly observe nature and study ecological principles.
“This type of hands-on learning is a great way for students to learn key classroom concepts,” said Cammarata. “Each concept is linked to one another, and with the addition of memorable experiences, these concepts are easier to understand and remember.”
This is the third year that Smee and Cammarata have led an ecological immersion class. This year, students traveled to numerous places in West Texas, including Seminole Canyon State Park, Balmorhea State Park, Fort Davis State Park, and the Nature Conservancy Davis Mountains Preserve, where students hiked to Mount Livermore, the fifth highest peak in Texas. In New Mexico, the group stopped at White Sands National Monument, the Living Desert Zoo and Botanical Gardens State Park, and Carlsbad Caverns, among other locations.
“Everyone learned about places, animals, and plants that they had never seen,” said Smee. “Students saw evidence of how humans interact with their changing environment from pre-historic times to present.”
In addition, students practiced outdoors skills, and were exposed to hiking, camping, and traveling in a range of environments and temperatures varying from 30 degrees to 90 degrees.
The trip also allowed the students and faculty to get to know each other on a more personal level than that obtained through a normal class experience.
“It was a great teamwork experience, and many students learned that they can accomplish more difficult tasks than they thought they could,” said Cammarata.