Science faculty member Jesse Wampler directs our CONNECT travel program, which features trips to Ecuador and Iceland. A naturalist and bird watcher, Wampler aims to offer educational travel experiences that incorporate local culture and adventure.
Participants in the Ecuador program
visit a small indigenous community in the Amazon basin to take part in community service, jungle trekking, and cultural explorations into the traditional ways of life of the Amazonian Quechua people. This could include tending cacao and coffee bushes, gathering plantains, re-siding a house, or thatching a roof. Students learn how to craft tools and create art from the forest, including baskets and pottery. They visit Yasuni National Park, a UNESCO-designated Biosphere Reserve, to hike, paddle, learn
about medicinal plants, search for giant earthworms, fish the rivers, look for giant river otters and dolphins, and sample different foods from the forest.
The Iceland program
begins in Reykjavik and includes day trips throughout the western half of the island to explore cultural and natural heritage landmarks. Students visit geysers, waterfalls, lava tubes, glaciers and hot springs, giving them hands-on experience with a number of topics covered in Earth Science. They develop independence, practice teamwork, and build self-confidence and social skills while learning about geology, sustainable energy development, Icelandic culture, and much more.