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Galapagos Excursion Planned

December 7, 2017 Tags: Academics , Global , Research , School of STEAM

Saint Francis University students looking to study abroad have another option this year to go global: spring break in the Galapagos Islands. The excursion for Biology students departs March 2nd and returns March 10th, 2018 and will fulfill a three credit Field Biology course requirement. Professors Dr. Gail Drus and Dr. Melissa Meadows will accompany ten students on the nine-day excursion.

Before departing for the islands off the coast of Ecuador, students will research the ecology and learn about the conservation efforts. Once there, they will experience firsthand the stark differences in environments and the diversity of organisms that have made the Galapagos Islands famous. Biology students in the environmental science and the marine science programs as well as aquarium & zoo science students can benefit from this field work. “There is simply nothing to compare to the transformational experience of seeing what Charles Darwin saw with his own eyes as he founded the theory of evolution,” says Dr. Drus. “By studying this ecosystem and the evolution of endemic organisms, the students will develop a better understanding of ecology and evolution as well as be better able to make informed decisions about how man controls economic development in harmony with nature.”

During the trip, students will keep a detailed field notebook of activities and natural history observations, including a list of observed flora and fauna. Upon completion of the trip, students will write a themed paper and formally present their experiences to the campus community. Dr. Meadows adds “We have chosen this destination because the Galapagos Islands provide students with a unique window into the processes of evolution: they will be able to observe the effects of resource partitioning and character displacement in the flora and fauna of the Galapagos. This experience will put them directly into the mindset of Charles Darwin during his famed voyage on the H.M.S. Beagle which provided the foundation for the development of the theory of evolution by means of natural selection. Truly, this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity is much more than a trip. We hope it’s the kind of learning experience they’ll talk about long after graduation.”

The trip is made possible through a partnership with WorldStrides. They have a reputation for excellence in logistics, educational content, and most importantly, safety and security for study abroad experiences. The itinerary will be a mix of cultural, hands-on, and educational activities, as well as a lot of fun. Some highlights include:

  • Day 1: Exploring the Santa Cruz Island highlands while seeing Darwin’s famous Finches, Galapagos tortoises, and exploring lava tunnels

  • Day 2: Hiking to the summit of the moon-like landscape of Bartolome Island for an amazing view over many of the other islands. Snorkeling with Galapagos Penguins, Sharks (harmless ones!), Sea Turtles, and other Pacific sea life, maybe even marine iguanas and Galapagos Sea Lions!

  • Day 3: Explore Seymour Island with its incredible breeding bird colonies including Great Frigatebirds and Blue-footed Boobies. Hike to a Flamingo pond and then snorkel with rays and other sea life on a gorgeous white-sand beach

  • Plus 3 more full days on the islands, an optional chance to scuba dive, the Charles Darwin Research Station, and so much more!

In addition to building their resume and their network, a program like this builds essential perspective that will set students on a path to becoming global citizens. For a complete list of study abroad experiences available, visit francis.edu/study-abroad.