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Honor students explore Galapagos

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Erica Lynn Lares
Staff Writer

While most University of La Verne students were dealing with the cold weather of January during winter break, biology professors Jeff Burkhart and Jay Jones, along with 15 students enjoyed the hot sun and adventured for two weeks to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands to see the nature of life firsthand.

The Global Ideas II: Darwin in Context class consisted of two weeks of in-class lecture followed by two weeks of laboratory experience in the form of field trips to Ecuador and the Galapagos islands.

Burkhart and Jones took nine freshmen honor students along with six biology majors.

The trip was open to every honor student who wanted to attend. The total cost of the trip was $3,000 per student.

“I wanted to bring along upper class students as chaperones to help along with the younger students,” Burkhart, professor of biology, said. “Since the students were so young and I did not know them I did not know what to expect, but … it was a great group of students,” Burkart said.

The trip went from Jan. 13 to Jan. 29.

The class visited various parts of Ecuador such as Quito, Otavalo, Yachana and the Santa Cruz and Isabella Islands. The trip consisted of many activities that allowed the students a hands-on learning experience.

The agenda included cultural activities and visits to historical centers, as well as hikes through the Amazon, through waterfalls and volcanic mountaintops, snorkeling and more.

“The goals of the trip were to give the students exposure to a different culture, to help them observe environmental change and challenges in the world, and help them understand the kind of observations that Darwin and Wallace made,” Burkhart said.

“What I took away from this trip was that we are really wasteful and need to be more conservative with the products we use,” said Rebecca Fent, sophomore biology major.

This was the first year that the class has been part of the honor sequence. However, the biology department has offered a tropical biology course since 2000 with travel to destinations such as Belize, Kenya, Costa Rica and Vietnam.

“I was asked to teach a course for honor students by Dean Jonathan Reed, a course that would meet the GE life science requirement,” Burkhart said. “But I do not think the class will be offered next January term because the department would like offer the tropical biology course.”

Senior biology major Dolores Almeda has taken the tropical biology class and went to Vietnam with the class last year.

“The class is a great experience, and it helps you be aware of the whole different variation of animals,” she said.

“The class really helps students in the major because it allows you to see the world and the different animals up close, instead of just what is here in the U.S,” Almeda said.

Erica Lynn Lares can be reached at erica.lares@laverne.edu.

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