I attended field camp through the University of Utah, in and around Salt Lake City, Utah.
What did receiving the J. David Lowell Field Camp Scholarship mean to you?
The generous J. David Lowell Field Camp Scholarship allowed me to focus on completing field camp instead of splitting my time and attention between field camp and work. Without this scholarship, I would have been unable to be so invested in my field camp, and my learning experience would have taken a backseat to monetary concerns.
What did that experience teach you about the geosciences, yourself, and your future career?
The University of Utah field camp hosts a variety of different geoscience students. My degree and my emphasis have focused specifically on mineralogy and paleontology, and due to that I often lacked a perspective other geoscience students had. Field camp taught me about several career paths I had never considered. Due to the work we did at field camp, I am now looking for a way to work in both paleontology and limestone caverns. I was surprised by just how much I found myself enamored with spending time within the crust of the Earth and I want to find a way to continue to experience that joy.
What opportunities did attending field camp provide that you wouldn’t have had otherwise?
We also had some mining engineering students in field camp and due to that, we did an exercise on evaluating the feasibility of placing a tunnel for a water pipe in Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah. I had no previous experience with geologic engineering, but I found the problem both instructive and fascinating. I had never given much thought to all the logistics involved in creating tunnels or mines. All I knew was that if you got enough explosives, eventually the rock would give way. Delving into the complexities of a field I didn’t understand was exhilarating as was listening to the deep passion the mining engineers had for their work.
In your opinion, how important is field camp for geoscience students?
I think that field camp is extremely important for geoscience students. It pushed and expanded my horizons, opening interests I had never seen. Since it forces students of so many disciplines into proximity, it also allowed us to make connections across our fields. Being pushed into things I did not know was often uncomfortable, but I am so glad to have had the experience.
Why should individuals support field camp opportunities for students?
At my university, field camp is required to receive a degree. However, many students delay it because of its considerable financial burden. College in general is expensive, but field camps are often structured in such a way that makes it near impossible to work during them. Worrying about financial concerns negatively impacts students’ performance in field camp. If I had been focused on the financial aspect of field camp, I would not have been so open to the new experiences I was privileged to have. Indeed, I may have even been upset about deviating from things I knew. Supporting field camp opportunities for students ensures that future geoscientists can work across disciplines. Science can no longer be done in a vacuum; it must be collaborative, and field camp is one of the first experiences many geoscience students have with collaboration.