Maria Solis discovered the interesting and diverse geology in her home state of Texas when her field camp decided to stay local instead of going to Montana.
Where did you attend field camp?
I did field camp at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). Most of my field camp studies took place in East and South Texas.
How did COVID-19 affect your experience of field camp?
The pandemic affected the field camp trip plans in such a way that instead of traveling to Montana as a group, we actually rode in our own vehicles to more local places to study those outcrops. We had to social distance in the field, which is easier than wearing our masks out there (it got extra hot with our masks on). We only went out to the field a day or two per week to minimize contact with other people.
What did receiving the J. David Lowell Field Camp Scholarship mean to you?
Continuing my education is highly important to me, but it’s not free. Getting this scholarship meant that I could forget about worrying if I had enough money to go where the instructor needed us to go with the right equipment for the study. In the time of COVID-19, when things are harder economically, I had the blessing of receiving the J. David Lowell Field Camp Scholarship to help me with the one resource that I have the least of.
What did that experience teach you about the geosciences, yourself, and your future career?
A lot of the work for field camp was done at home using a long list of different resources due to COVID-19. I learned that being out in the field is more necessary than I thought when it comes to studying an area, because studying an area virtually is limited. In order to understand an area, it’s important to use both, virtual resources and field study. I learned that I am in the right field when it comes to my career, because I absolutely fell in love with geologic features and rocks. Out there, I felt I was in my element, and my curiosity spiked while looking at new rocks and minerals and formations I had never seen before, or things I had seen only in class.
What opportunities did attending field camp provide that you wouldn’t have had otherwise?
Texas has been my home all my life, but I hardly ever went out exploring it. If it wasn’t for this field camp experience, I wouldn’t know how diverse and interesting Texas geology really is.
In your opinion, how important is field camp for geoscience students?
There’s no substitute for going out to the field to get the hard facts in geologic studies. It’s a science, and hard, scientific facts are indispensable.
Why should individuals support field camp opportunities for students?
Field camp is expensive, regardless of where it is, and most students that study the geologic sciences need the one resource necessary for success in the field, money to get the right clothes/shoes, the right equipment and scientific instruments, the right sustainment, etc. Funding helps students prepare to become the experts they need to be for the benefit of the geosciences and society as a whole. If a student keeps worrying about what they don’t have, how can they worry about the geologic problem at hand?