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Alexandra Banks in a rock formationAs a non-traditional student, receiving the J. David Lowell Field Camp Scholarship allowed Alexandra Banks to participate in field camp, which helped her find her place in geoscience.

Where did you attend field camp?

I attended the Southern Illinois University Geology field camp. We spent a majority of the time learning field mapping in Montana. We also visited various locations throughout Wyoming and Idaho to learn about the geologic processes that formed some of this country’s most beloved parks.

What did receiving the J. David Lowell Field Camp Scholarship mean to you?

A field course is commonly required to complete a degree in geology, and it is a really important experience for students. Receiving this scholarship alleviated the financial strain due to not only the cost of the course, but taking six weeks away from work. As a non-traditional student, I am primarily responsible for all of my school and living expenses. This scholarship allowed me to focus on all that I had to gain, rather than how I was going to make it through the summer.

What did that experience teach you about the geosciences, yourself, and your future career?

I learned that the field of geoscience is very diverse. There are many different applications, and I found myself interested in facets that I had never thought much about before. I also learned that I really enjoy working outside. Fieldwork is very challenging, and the hard work makes me feel strong and confident. The physical aspect of many geology jobs is not something that intimidates me. Rather, I look forward to it.

What opportunities did attending field camp provide that you wouldn’t have had otherwise and in your opinion, how important is field camp for geoscience students?

Attending field camp allowed me to be able to apply fundamental geologic concepts to real landscapes and features. Field camp is integral to the success of a geology student, because reading about something, and recognizing it in the field are two different things. Field camp provides the opportunity for students to visit very diverse landscapes and learn in 3D. It also helps students orient themselves in the world of geosciences and really find out what interests them the most.

Why should individuals support field camp opportunities for students?

Support is so important because field camp is such a valuable and important part of our education, and is required for most geology degrees. However, it is quite costly and requires time away from work. The scholarship program that I participate in for fall and spring semesters does not extend financial support for the summer. Students should not have to decline opportunities, or avoid programs that require a field course due to financial strain.


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