Paige Voss, a recipient of one of this year’s GSA Field Camp Scholarships, attended field camp in Nepal, where she experienced how important it is for geologists to have knowledge of and connection with the people and environments they are studying to better perform and communicate their work.
Where did you attend field camp?
This summer I attended the “Nepal: Geoscience in the Himalaya” program run by the School for International Training in Kathmandu and the Annapurna region of Nepal.
What did that experience teach you about the geosciences, yourself, and your future career?
While I have had some field experience in the past, all of the equipment I was trained on and the skills I learned this summer were new experiences to me. I had the opportunity to experience how geoscience is taught in Nepal by studying under local Nepali professors. I also learned that I really am most passionate about the portions of earth systems that also overlap and interact with human systems, and thus that I want that to become part of my future career.
What opportunities did attending field camp provide that you wouldn’t have had otherwise?
As a student double majoring in mathematics and geology, it was not possible for me to attend a conventional semester-long study abroad program. Additionally, since I attend a small liberal arts college, we do not have our own associated field camp. Thus, attending this field camp gave me not only the opportunity to intensively learn critical field skills and apply my classroom skills in the field, but also allowed me to do so alongside geoscience students from another country and culture.
In your opinion, how important is field camp for geoscience students?
In any scientific discipline, there is a tendency to become distanced from the subject of study when spending much of one’s time in a lab. This dangerous reality only goes to further the gap between academia and society, which has done so much harm to our country. It is important for geologists to have knowledge of and connection with the people and environments they are studying, so as to better perform and communicate about their work. For these reasons, it is incredibly important for all geoscience students to have the opportunity to complete extended fieldwork. While the individual field skills learned are important, the overall value is even greater than that.
Why should individuals support field camp opportunities for students?
Attending a summer field camp can be a financial burden to students as equipment and tuition are often expensive, and it takes away summer weeks that many students would otherwise spend working. However, it is a crucial learning experience for young geologists that should not only be accessible to the lucky few. Thus, the actions of institutions and larger organizations like GSA to help support students in the pursuit of field camp opportunities are very significant.