RE: NANFA-- reply from non-list member

Denkhaus, Robert (DenkhaR_at_Ci.Fort-Worth.TX.US)
Thu, 21 Feb 2002 11:26:54 -0600

This is exactly why I value the education that I received at (CAUTION:
Blatant alma mater plug to follow!) the University of Wisconsin-Stevens
Point. As a wildlife major, or for that matter anyone majoring in any area
in the College of Natural Resources, field work was an extremely important
and required facet of the educational program. Ornithology class involved
field birding. Dendrology was spent out among the trees. Wildlife
techniques class included capturing, marking and radio-tracking a variety
of critters. If those who major in English Literature are expected to read
books and accounting majors are expected to use adding machines then why
does it seem so difficult for universities to understand that student field
biologists/ecologists/natural resource managers should be in the field?

However, required field work related to classwork is only a small taste of
what is really necessary. I can remember spending much of my free time in
the field working on plant, bird, etc. identification. I volunteered to
work for graduate students just to gain extra field experience. While the
business majors were honing their golf game, I spent hundreds of hours in
the field with nothing in return except knowledge, experience and the
occasional 6-pack of Point Bock beer just for helping out! So many of the
students that come to me today looking for career guidance are appalled by
the idea of giving up their weekends and school breaks to gain experience
for no pay! I'm afraid that they think that they can learn everything that
they need to know from books and the internet.

To anyone out there looking to go to school and wants a field education, be
sure to ask about the university's field facilities and check into the
background of the professors. That will give you an idea of how field
oriented they are.

Rob Denkhaus
Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Bruce Stallsmith
> Sent: Wednesday, February 20, 2002 8:34 PM
> To:
> Subject: Re: NANFA-- reply from non-list member
> Liz is absolutely on the money, which is a sad fact. I have a
> graduate
> student who works for me as a laboratory teaching assistant
> in our freshman
> biology labs. She came to us with a B.S. in plant ecology
> from U.Cal. San
> Francisco, a good school, but was totally unable to use a
> microscope (quite
> literally!). Her plant ID skills were poor... What the hey?
> This was all the
> result of NO FIELDWORK. And this is certainly the trend of late.
> --Bruce Stallsmith
> Huntsville, AL, US of A
> >I forwarded some posts to a non-list member. She asked me
> to send her
> >comments to the list.
> >
> >Chuck Church
> >Indianapolis, Indiana USA
> >
> > >> Which isn't to say that Gene doesn't know anything about
> >ichthyology..... merely that it's not his principal pursuit.>>
> >
> >Yes, when I went to grad school in ecology I was floored to
> discover that a
> >good number of my fellow grad students were not naturalists.
> How did they
> >*get* there if they weren't into nature?? I wondered. My advisor
> >distinguished between people interested in critters and
> people interested
> >in processes (he is the first kind). The first kind of
> person wants to
> >know about fish ecology, population dynamics, evolution,
> behavior, etc.
> >because s/he wants to understand fish better. The second
> kind of person
> >thinks a fish is a useful example of some abstract process, like the
> >evolution of sexual selection or physiological adaptation to saline
> >environments. The worst type of people - *YAWN* - are
> those who are just
> >interested in what genes do. You can't even SEE a gene, for
> >petessake. It was beyond fathoming!
> >
> >Liz
> >(who wishes you could somehow get a PhD in "the natural
> history of the
> >macroorganisms of the eastern US")

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