Students in the College of Natural Resources at the University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point will have the option to complete required summer field techniques in natural resources on campus during summer 2015.
The six-week field camp is an integral part of the college and is one reason it ranks among the best in the country. The coursework is designed to equip students with necessary field skills and covers topics in forestry, plant identification, wildlife, soil and water resources. The experience is worth seven credits.
In the past, students completed the courses at Treehaven Field Station in Tomahawk or an alternative European Environmental Studies Seminar. Overflow students have been accommodated at the Central Wisconsin Environmental Station in Amherst Junction.
Space is limited at Treehaven, and the requirement is difficult to complete. This summer, Treehaven facilities will be at capacity with a maximum of 108 students in each of two sessions; the third session will be on campus and will accommodate at least 60. Roughly 300 students intend to fulfill the requirement in 2015.
Dr. Paul Doruska, associate dean for academic affairs of the CNR, said administrators will offer the summer field experience on campus in 2015 to decrease the pressure on the program and reduce the need for facilities at the station. There are no plans to offer the field experience on campus during 2016.
“That’s a direct result of our increased enrollments,” Doruska said. “The courses themselves aren’t changing.”
Students in the on-campus session will utilize Schmeeckle Reserve and will be bussed to field sites in the Stevens Point area. Housing will be available in the Suites at 201, but no food services will be provided.
Jake Pedersen, wildland fire science major, will attend the on-campus session. Pederson based his decision on the opportunity for free lodging.
“We already leased a house,” Pedersen said. “If we’re paying for it, we might as well use it.”
Pedersen said he has some concerns about having different experiences than his peers, but is excited for the learning opportunities.
Dylan Belisle, natural resource law enforcement major, will attend Treehaven. Belisle said his decision was based on Treehaven’s location and the fact that most on-campus students would have their own housing.
“I wanted the whole Treehaven experience,” Belisle said. “I wanted something different.”
Treehaven owes its success to close-quarters living and proximity to a rural, forested environment. The on-campus session may not afford the same experiences on a daily basis.
“There is something excellent about living in the woods,” said Dr. Eric Anderson, wildlife professor. “It’s just not the same here.”
Anderson is chairman of the summer field experience committee and has taught summer field courses. The on-campus session, Anderson said, will be different because most field sites are not within walking distance and students will not be living in close quarters. At Treehaven, students are required to live on-site.
The on-campus session is offered at a slightly lower tuition rate because food is not included. Lodging and course fees are higher on campus, but students may make other living arrangements that could further reduce costs.
To increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the program, university representatives and natural resource professionals will gather at a summit held at Treehaven on April 25 to reevaluate curriculum and logistics for the first time.
Anderson said one main objectives will be to identify key points every student should learn and how to package them into coursework, particularly human dimensions skills.
“What we’ve brought to the table for the first time are people from the human dimensions side,” Anderson said. “We’re taking the right steps. We’re building the classes around the critical skills and not the other way around.”
Doruska said more information about the future of the program and details about sessions for 2016 will be known in the fall. He said the university is dedicated to continuing and improving the summer field experience.