This semester, Professor of Biology Leah Knapp, D.V.M., took her ornithology class to Kino Bay, Mexico, in partnership with Prescott College. Ornithology is a biology course focusing on the study of birds. One of the course objectives is an extensive field study of birds.
Kino Bay is on the Gulf of California on the west coast of Mexico, with diverse habitats in the surrounding areas. Student Justin Norgan said, “The main learning objective was to observe different birds and how they adapt to certain environments. So, we went to various habitats, including the desert, mangroves, and tidal estuaries, to observe all the different species of birds that we mostly don’t see here in Michigan.”
The class has been hard at work all semester, and this trip helped put their classroom work into practice. As Justin said, “Being able to use what we learned in class out in the field lets us have a totally different perspective on our subject that most classes can’t offer.”
Not only were the students focusing on ornithology, but Justin said they were able to bring other course learning to the trip. “We were also able to use other information we learned from many other classes we have taken at OC and apply it. For example, we studied how all the different species of plants were able to live in such extreme environments as the desert and mangroves. We had learned most of these adaptations from taking plant ecology.”
Jarrett Thorne, another student who attended the trip, added, “It helped me understand how many different species there are in the world and why we should care about all of them, not just the ones that we can see in our backyard.”
The trip also offered adventures students have only dreamed of experiencing. “The highlight of this trip was seeing the biodiversity of wildlife in Kino Bay,” Jarrett said. He said he even saw a sea turtle, his favorite animal.
In addition, the trip offered cross-cultural experiences, giving the students exposure to different places and people, which helped to broaden their perspective. For example, the Day of the Dead took place while the students were there, providing an opportunity to celebrate and experience that with the local people.
For the students, Kino Bay was more than a learning opportunity. It was the trip of a lifetime.
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This feature was written by Savannah Baker, a senior studying English and business. The former editor of Olivet’s literary journal, Garfield Lake Review, Savannah now pursues her interest in writing and editing as a marketing intern with Olivet College.