Jan. 31, 2006
By Natalia Lavric
While most Ohio University students worked, spent time with their families and watched snowflakes fall over winter break, eight students and two program advisers traveled to sunny New Zealand as part of the Global Studies Program in island biology, spending three weeks traveling, completing field research and sightseeing.
New Zealand, located southeast of Australia in the South Pacific, boasts rugged, isolated landscapes, rare species of animals and plants, and a unique culture. "Between the mountains, the tropical forests and the beaches I was in heaven," junior Katie Snyder said. "It is definitely like no other place on earth."
During fall quarter, students met once a week for a seminar on logistics, natural history of the island, and to become better acquainted with one another. By the time they left Columbus on Nov. 29, students were already familiar with their classmates and knew what to expect from their journey.
Upon arriving in Christchurch, New Zealand, students began to work on their field studies. "A typical day, even on my day off, would start around 7:15 in the morning," Snyder explained. "We would set off into the field and wouldn't get back until early to mid-evening." After completing their research for the day, students cooked dinner together, discussed field findings and talked about their experiences.
Program directors shared expertise in their respective fields; students waded through mountain streams to learn about freshwater algae with Ohio University associate professor Morgan Vis and had the opportunity to explore forests with assistant professor Kim Brown.
Although trips focus on biological field research, the program is open to students of all majors who have taken at least two introductory biology classes. Students brought different specializations to the group; while most students participated in field research, Morgan Riles, a sophomore film student in Honors Tutorial College, captured the trip on film and is currently editing her own documentary showing how students conducted field research that she hopes to show on the festival circuit.
How has the program affected students? "I loved New Zealand so much, that I plan on going back someday - maybe even to live for a short while," Snyder said. "I felt so welcomed by the people and at home in the atmosphere and the nature."
The New Zealand trip is not the first opportunity for Ohio University biology students to travel; past groups have traveled to Bolivia, Hawaii, Brazil, French Guiana and, most recently, Thailand. Future plans include voyages to the Pacific Northwest, Malaysia and China. Students interested in the Global Studies program can contact Harvey Ballard at 593-4659 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://oak.cats.ohiou.edu/~ballardh/globalstudies/.
Natalia Lavric is a student writer with University Communications and Marketing.