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Jason Drebber on skisWhere did you attend field camp?

I participated in the Juneau Icefield Research Program in Juneau, Alaska.

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

My receipt of this scholarship was recognition for all of the work that I put into school over the past five years. It gave me the opportunity to actually apply what I learned in college by being in the field for a few months and working with professors and other scientists on interesting geologic problems.

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

I learned a lot about glaciology, geomorphology, climatology, and polar science. I also learned about what is required to live and work in polar regions as a scientist. It was not always easy, but I loved being there for the whole summer. It helped me determine what I actually wanted to do as a polar scientist by exposing me to a number of different topics, including some that I didn’t know I might be interested in. Also, this model of field camp was helpful for me as a recent graduate as I am thinking about my next steps in life, and it helped me determine what that might be moving forward.

What opportunities did attending field camp provide that you wouldn’t have had otherwise?

Field camp helped me develop a large network of scientists with similar interests to my own who I will likely work with again in the future and will be a part of my professional network for my whole life. This network has already helped me as I start to think about graduate school. It also gave me the opportunity to get involved in more research and work on my science communication skills; for example, I was an author on an AGU poster for this fall, which was not something I expected to come out of participating in this field camp.

In your opinion, how important is field camp for geoscience students?

I think that every student who wants to attend field camp should be given the opportunity to do so. It is a great life-changing experience that provided me with a number of resources and opportunities that I would not have normally had. Most importantly, I made a lot of friends which makes me feel more included in the geoscience community.

Why should individuals support field camp opportunities for students?

Field camp is expensive—you have to pay for the program, travel, and equipment among other odds and ends. It adds up. In addition, due to the rigors of academic study, students are often not able to work or make money while they are in school, making these costs more of a burden. But given how important of an opportunity it is for students, . This is why I think that anyone who is able should support field camp costs.

 

Gabrielle Davy taking notes in the fieldWhere did you attend field camp?

Turkey. It was run through South Dakota School of Mines.

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

It meant that I did not have to take out any more student loans in order to finish my degree and graduate. I already have student loans that I have taken out for my education, and field camp is really expensive; if I hadn’t had the support, I would have had to take even more loans out. The support eased my financial burden and let me be able to enjoy the course without worrying about finances.

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

It really helped bring everything I had learned in my classes altogether. It was amazing to be able to see things I had only ever seen in a textbook in real life. It showed me how much goes into being a geologist—and what it takes to be a field geologist. It helped me confirm what I did and did not like about geology—and that helped me feel more confident about my future plans. I learned that I don’t like the heat that much, but I am really good at identifying slickenlines and finding fossils. I learned that I can be a leader, and am good at contributing to a group. It helped me realize the things that I love about geology and am excited to continue studying for my career—earthquake hazards.

What opportunities did attending field camp provide that you wouldn’t have had otherwise?

Meeting new people from different universities and making new friends. Traveling to a new place. Experiencing a new culture and enjoying the foods, activities, and people of this area. I was able to see amazing geological formations caused by the North Anatolian fault and see things I had only seen in textbooks in real-life. This camp was the best part of my summer, and I am so glad I was able to go. I can’t thank you enough for your support. It was such an amazing experience, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

In your opinion, how important is field camp for geoscience students?

I think it is really important. It brings everything together, and you start to understand why you had to learn certain things. For example, I was required to take a paleobiology course and I had a hard time in it. I wanted to drop the class, and I didn’t see the point in it because I was never going to deal with fossils ever again. But once I got to the field camp, I was able to recognize fossils, and found graptolites—which are hundreds of millions of years old!!! I think without field camp, I would feel a lot less qualified; I felt like this was the capstone to my degree—the final step to becoming a geologist. I felt like I learned so much and have a better understanding of geology as a whole now. I used sedimentology, structural geology, mineralogy, petrology, field geology, and paleobiology, and put the skills I had learned from those classes to use. I think field experience for a geoscience student is a must. You have to go and see, touch, measure, and analyze the things you are learning in the classroom in the field.

Why should individuals support field camp opportunities for students?

Without support, it makes it a lot more difficult for some of us to be able to attend field camps. For my degree, it was a requirement to be able to graduate. Without a field camp, I would not have a degree. Without support, it means completing my education would have been a LOT more expensive, and the support eased the financial burden for me. Field camp also provides such amazing and fun experiences for the students. I really enjoyed my time and loved all the people that I met, and it is an experience that I will remember for the rest of my life. Thank you so much for your support, I am so grateful for the opportunity it provided for me.

 

Ethan Oleson in the fieldWhere did you attend field camp?

I attended field camp at Montana State University–Bozeman. We were based out of the Tobacco Roots Mountains at the Indiana University Geologic Field Station (IUGFS).

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

Receiving the J. David Lowell Field Camp Scholarship was life-changing. This scholarship allowed me to go to field camp; it made it much more affordable by cutting the cost in half. I was able to go to field camp without worrying about being in debt.

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

Field camp confirmed my career choice. I am a current M.S. student in geology at the University of Arkansas working toward a Ph.D. to hopefully teach field camp one day. I loved the field experience, the application of years of knowledge culminating in producing maps and understanding of the area and the region at large.

What opportunities did attending field camp provide that you wouldn’t have had otherwise?

Field camp allowed me to get my degree, firstly. Field camp also provided me with an opportunity to pursue my science and feel confident in my convictions and interpretation.

In your opinion, how important is field camp for geoscience students?

Field camp is essential in geoscience instruction. An application or at least an understanding of the concepts, theories, and mechanics of the principles of the Earth and the earth system out in the field provides a well-rounded and rich education. As geoscientists and earth scientists, the Earth, the field is our laboratory.

Why should individuals support field camp opportunities for students?

Support for field camp is essential to providing equitable and equal education for geoscientists. Some fields of geoscience require multiple field camps that are expensive and take place during the summer when students would be working to support themselves. Students should not have to go into personal debt in order to make up for the lost income they would have made while pursuing their education. Supporting students through field camp supports them for the rest of their careers to give back and provide for the field.

 

Elysia Viengkham selfie in the fieldWhere did you attend field camp?

I attended the University of Washington’s field camp, which was located in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

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

For the last four years, I have been working full-time, while also attending school full-time. I’ve needed to do this in order to support myself and my family because I returned to finish my education in my late thirties. Field camp is so time intensive, I knew I would not be able to maintain a full-time working status. Receiving the J. David Lowell Field Camp Scholarship made it possible for me to cut down my work hours to less than part-time so that I could attend field camp. Without this capstone course, I would not have been able to complete my education and it was only possible with the assistance of this scholarship.

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

This experience showed me that I am most definitely heading in the right direction with my life. Every day in the field felt natural to me—like I was meant to be doing that very thing. I have had many different jobs in my life, and I never would have imagined finding a profession like this. It would be hard to call it work when it really just feels like I am getting to explore structures and processes that fascinate me. Trying to unfold the history of earth structures and materials has the same wonderment as reading a captivating book, except this story is written within the Earth rather than on pages. I only wish I had realized that this is what I was meant to be doing much sooner in my life.

What opportunities did attending field camp provide that you wouldn’t have had otherwise?

The last two years of school were difficult because of COVID. Geology is not conducive to remote learning and not being able to meet other like-minded peers made networking almost impossible. Field camp was one of the few times I was able to spend time with professors and other students whom I have been taking classes with for the last two years. Prior to that, my only interactions with them were through the camera during remote classroom sessions.

In your opinion, how important is field camp for geoscience students?

The field camp experience is absolutely necessary for geoscience students as it allows students to apply their knowledge to real-life problems and environments. The field camp experience teaches students how to handle the social aspect of traveling, working, and living together while doing geologic fieldwork. It also helps students to fully understand all of the logistics required to successfully work in the field.

Why should individuals support field camp opportunities for students?

It is important that students receive support for field camp opportunities because the cost of them is usually quite high. Field camp is essential for geoscience students because it is a rare chance to apply everything that was learned during their university studies. It is saddening to think that others might not be able to pursue this educational path because the monetary cost is too great. For me completing my education was incredibly stressful, but having the financial support of the J. David Lowell Field Camp Scholarship gave me the ability to focus on school rather than how I was going to pay for it.

 

Where did you attend field camp?

I attended Western Michigan University’s Hydrogeology Field Course in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

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

Receiving the J. David Lowell Field Camp Scholarship was an opportunity to expand my geologic horizons. I’ve learned that a great geologist doesn’t fit into one subsection of geology, a good geologist often knows a wide range of geologic fields. Being a geophysics major, the J. David Lowell Field Camp Scholarship allowed me to expand my geology knowledge and branch out into hydrogeology without having to worry about financial limitations.

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

With the help of the David Lowell Field Camp Scholarship, I was able to take Western Michigan University’s Hydrogeology Field Course. I can honestly say that these last six weeks have been the most educational ones of my academic career. WMU’s field course covered a wide range of highly applicable topics. We started with geophysics and got hands-on experience with a wide range of geophysical equipment and methods. We then took a 40-hour HAZWOPER safety program to learn about workplace safety and receive our HAZWOPER certificates. Next was drilling week where we learned about well components, drilling methods, and were able to see many drilling operations in the field. Next was sampling week where we learned how to do low flow sampling, basic chemical testing, and how to valuably interpret the data we’d collected. Next was aquifer testing, where we performed various aquifer tests including slug tests and multi-well drawdown observation. Lastly, we learned about contamination and remediation. This is where we learned about a wide variety of remediation techniques and were able to see many of these techniques in use on some of Michigan’s Superfund sites.

What opportunities did attending field camp provide that you wouldn’t have had otherwise?

In addition to all these amazing classroom and hands-on experiences, we also met many great professionals who were eager to teach and talk to us about various hydrogeology-related fields. Each professional had their own wealth of knowledge, and it was a truly amazing opportunity to talk to them about what they do daily.

I was also nominated for a USGS NAGT internship!

In your opinion, how important is field camp for geoscience students?

I think field camps are monumentally important. Field camps bridge the disconnect between classroom learning and real-life application. There is a lot of information that is taught in the classroom and sometimes the link to application is lost. With field camps, you can see classroom principles in action and solidify information that will be beneficial to your career.

Why should individuals support field camp opportunities for students?

I believe that supporting field camp opportunities for students promotes and supports the advance of geologic discovery. As new advances, problems, and discoveries arise, the students of today will be the individuals that guide the future.

 

Where did you attend field camp? 

The University of California, Riverside, conducted my field camp, where I stayed at the following four University of California research stations: Crooked Creek, Barcroft, SNARL, and Owens Valley.

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

Receiving the J. David Lowell Field Camp Scholarship allowed me to complete the undergraduate part of my academic journey without adding an economic burden on my family. It covered tuition and essential supplies, including a hiking backpack and shoes.

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

Going to field camp after being a student during COVID-19 taught me practical skills I could not learn from online classes. It also taught me that I was strong enough to map a large area in extreme heat, work with a great group of students that I did not know well going into the camp, and that I could not only overcome my challenges but thrive in the field of geology and love it.

What opportunities did attending field camp provide that you wouldn’t have had otherwise?

Field camp was a transforming experience for me. I had minimal field experience before attending, and now I feel very confident with mapping, using a Brunton to locate myself on a map, taking measurements in the field, and with my physical abilities to complete a more extensive mapping project.

In your opinion, how important is field camp for geoscience students?

Field camp is essential for geoscience students to gain practical skills, confidence, independence, teamwork, problem-solving skills, and safety awareness. It was challenging but allowed for personal and professional growth, readying us for our next steps, whether a job or graduate school.

Why should individuals support field camp opportunities for students?

The ability for students to attend field camps can have many obstacles, from costs to time and logistics. With the support of individuals, the financial barrier can be removed, helping students to achieve their goals and prepare them for the future.

 

Where did you attend field camp?

I attended field camp through my geosciences department at Fort Hays State University. We spent July camping out and doing fieldwork throughout Utah, Arizona, and Colorado. We visited some truly remarkable geological sites, including Bryce Canyon, Zion, and Grand Canyon National Parks; Dinosaur National Monument; Meteor Crater; Monument Valley; Horseshoe Bend and Goosenecks State Parks; and the Royal Gorge.

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

Field camp is required for my geology degree, but it was very expensive. As someone who comes from a low-income family, I am so grateful for the support I received from the J. David Lowell Field Camp Scholarship. It paid for half of my field camp costs, which made expenses more manageable. I am very honored to have received this award. Not only did it support me financially, but winning the award also gave me more confidence in myself and my potential as a field scientist.

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

Field camp felt like a culmination of the past three years of my geology classes. I learned to apply my knowledge of mineralogy, petrology, structural geology, and sedimentology into real-world field settings. Though I have considerable paleontology field experience, my field camp taught me a completely different set of field skills. Throughout field camp, I progressively learned how to be a field geologist. At first, I asked a lot of questions to make sure I was doing the projects correctly. Over time, I learned that I already knew how to “think like a geologist,” and that I just needed to work on trusting myself and applying it to the physical world around me. By the end of field camp, I was much more confident and sure of my abilities as a field geologist.

What opportunities did attending field camp provide that you wouldn’t have had otherwise?

We camped in the field throughout July, setting up and tearing down camp every 2–3 days. Though camping in desert regions of the west in the middle of summer posed its own challenges, I think that working and living in harsh conditions was a valuable experience for me. My field camp experiences will serve me well throughout my career as a paleontologist. It also gave me the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see so many wonders of the North American west in one magnificent trip, while bonding with other professionals and future scientists.

In your opinion, how important is field camp for geoscience students?

To me, field camp is extremely important for geoscience students to understand themselves, the field of geology, the methods of fieldwork, and how to perceive and think about the geological world which surrounds us. As my professor told us, field camp is “a rite of passage” to becoming a practicing geologist and field scientist. I personally believe that field camp is an absolutely integral part and highlight of a geoscience student’s academic career.

Why should individuals support field camp opportunities for students?

There are students across the country in poor financial circumstances, like myself, who would really struggle to afford to attend field camp on their own. Generous people who support field camp opportunities make it possible for people like me to experience field camp, which was such a wonderful and vital opportunity for me. I am so grateful for the support I received from the J. David Lowell Field Camp Scholarship.

 

On 29 November, #GivingTuesday, the GSA Foundation launches our year-end efforts to support field camp opportunities for students. You can help aspiring geoscientists attend field camp in 2023! Read about the life-changing experiences of this year’s student recipients on the Foundation blog with new stories posted weekly.

Unforgettable, pivotal, crucial, invaluable, transformative. These are just a few of the words the 2022 J. David Lowell Field Camp Scholarship recipients used to describe to their field camp experience.Thanks to your support, this year we were able to provide funding for a record thirty J. David Lowell Field Camp Scholarships, ten more than when the program was solely funded by a corporate sponsor. With your help, lack of funding doesn’t have to be an insurmountable challenge for students to participate in the experience of field camp.

Make a gift of any size between Giving Tuesday and 31 December to help provide support for students to attend field camp in 2023.

 

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Alec Siurek in the field

Interview with Alec Siurek

Where did you attend field camp?

I attended field camp at the Judson Mead Indiana University Geologic Field Station out in the Tobacco Root Mountains of southwestern Montana.

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

For me, receiving the J. David Lowell Field Camp Scholarship meant that I was able to offset the cost of field camp by approximately 40%, and was the deciding factor for me in attending the IU Field Camp. Receiving this scholarship was huge for me, as it meant I was able to save a significant amount of the little money I make as a college student, and being able to attend field camp without the worry of having to pay back the loan I would have needed was a wonderful feeling.

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

My experience at field camp only solidified my desire to embed myself in the geosciences. The course at the IU Geologic Field Station challenged my skills in fieldwork, note-taking, and structural geology, which I was always excited to face. Field camp certainly taught me how to take proper notes in the field, how to read the lithology of an area and use it in a more regional context, and overall gave me the necessary foundation to be a good field geologist. Field camp was tough, both physically and mentally challenging, but it was a challenge that got me out of my bunk every morning, as I found every day brought new experiences that I find myself missing more and more as time goes on. As for my career, I would love to continue research, especially in a place such as southwest Montana with its pristine exposures of rock and fascinating geological history. As of right now, I am torn between going on to get my Master’s degree and work with my state’s geologic survey, or getting my Ph.D. and teaching, as I have found that I love to help others to appreciate the wonders of the geosciences as I do.

What opportunities did attending field camp provide that you wouldn’t have had otherwise?

Attending field camp provided me with a way to prove to myself that my skills as a geologist are as sharp as they can be. Coming from northwest Indiana where the tallest feature around is Holocene sand dunes and overall lacking any good exposures of bedrock, getting to attend field camp in Montana was a unique experience that gave me more classical training than any field camp locally would have provided for me.

In your opinion, how important is field camp for geoscience students?

I think that field camp is absolutely necessary for geoscience students. While departments may make field camp attendance a requirement, I believe that it is necessary because of the experience that it gives you. Everyone in the geosciences always talks about how great of an experience field camp is and how life-changing it is, and after attending myself I couldn’t agree more with them.

Why should individuals support field camp opportunities for students?

Simply put, when you support field camp opportunities for students, you are supporting the next generation of geoscientists that will go on to do extraordinary things in their careers, especially in a time when understanding our interactions and impacts on our planet is crucial. Supporting field camp opportunities for students provides them with an incredible experience while helping to make this experience much more affordable.

 

… Wild, vast, Denali National Park, to be exact. We stood at the abrupt end of a gravel road, a chilling wind rolling up over its brink, staring across a tumbling mountainside a hundred yards to another precipitous edge where the road re-started. My mind needed time to make sense of the visual chaos in front of us before recognizing that the crumbled earth some forty feet below was, indeed, the missing stretch of roadway.

Park geologist Denny Capps and three of Denali National Park and Preserve’s interns were explaining the Pretty Rocks Landslide, its long history, and substantially increasing movement over the past eight years. In fact, the recent displacement has been severe enough to close the park road at its midpoint while extensive two-year plans are implemented to reestablish a safe road across the slide area.

Nicole Benshoff is focused on this and other landslides throughout the park during her internship, and Samantha Hilburn is working in science communications. Both are part of the Scientists in Parks (SIP) program—a partnership between the National Park Service (NPS), the Geological Society of America, the Stewards Individual Placement Program, and the Ecological Society of America. The program offers unique opportunities to work on current scientific needs in national parks, build professional experience, and foster the next generation of diverse natural resource stewards. Angela Fiorito is an intern in the NPS’s Mosaics in Science Diversity Program, a GIS assistant documenting historical aerial photos. With first-hand experience that positions are highly sought after and competitive, all three value the exceptional opportunities to apply their geology backgrounds to real-world, science-based work in Denali.

Nicole said, “So far my time at Denali National Park and Preserve has served as a foundational experience for government work and how geology would be incorporated. The hands-on experience with geohazards, monitoring, and communication is invaluable and will bolster my graduate student skillset. I look forward to every new day as it always brings something exciting.”

GSA and the NPS have partnered on work experience programs since 1997, and Nicole’s geology assistant position is fully funded by donors who have been supporting these efforts through the GSA Foundation for sixteen years. Sally and Bob Newcomb are committed to facilitating important scientific work on challenging, current issues, noting, “The most fun Bob and I have all year is reading the letters from the interns about their experiences, the reports of their activities, and sometimes their publications. A few of the areas addressed by interns in Denali include glaciation, hazard mitigation, river morphology, novel fossils, monitoring fossil access, and visitor education,” and now, the tremendously important work on increasing landslide implications in the park. The Newcombs enjoy keeping up with the interns by attending talks and posters at GSA and reading their reports, and after ten years of consistent funding, they visited Denali to interact with the interns and park staff, explore deep into the park, and learn about the science being done.

Among hundreds of annual participants in SIP and GeoCorps™ America—a similar program partnering with the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service—dozens have gone on to full-time federal employment over the years. If you are passionate about encouraging aspiring geoscientists to conduct important scientific work on America’s public lands, please contact Debbie Marcinkowski at dmarcinkowski@geosociety.org or +1-303-357-1047. General contributions of all sizes make a difference.

Standing at the dramatic edge of the Pretty Rocks Landslide, I watched Nicole’s eyes light up as she described for me in layman’s terms how the rhyolite in the Teklanika Formation contributes to the problematic instability throughout the park, as weathering results in the clay that slides. It was strikingly clear as we stood in this majestic expanse, what compels the Newcombs’ continued commitment, the immense need for scientific work in public lands, and just how much is supported through GSA’s work experience partnerships.

Debbie Marcinkoswki, GSA Foundation Executive Director

Pretty Rocks Landslide, Denali National Park braided rivers, Denali National Park and Preserve drainage to a new landslide, Denali National Park and Preserve Nicole Benshoff at Denali National Park and Preserve

Caption: From left: Park geologist and 2022 science interns at the edge of the Pretty Rocks Landslide and the temporary end of the park road. Braided rivers characterize the landscape of Denali National Park and Preserve. Hiking up a drainage to a new landslide representative of many appearing along the park road. Nicole Benshoff explaining the geology of this kind of slide.

 

GSA Foundation Rendezvous in the Mountains of Saint Francis trip leaders Sandro Montanari and Frank Pazzaglia at our home base of Abbazia di Sant’Urbano, Monte San Vicino in the distance, preparing our group for the first day in the field.

Looking toward Monte San Vicino (Italy) Sandro Montanari and Frank Pazzaglia at Abbazia di Sant'Urbano

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