Earlier this year, I got accepted and enrolled myself into a Masters program with Miami University called the Global Field Program (GFP), a program very suitable (but not limited) for educators of all fields (schools, museums, zoos, aquaria, and etc.) interested in conservation and inquiry-based learning. The major attraction of the GFP is its summer Earth Expeditions (EE); a way to travel and earn credits for your graduate studies, for personal development for potential career advancement, or personal development for simply your own personal development.
Not wanting to commit fully to pursuing a Masters degree previously, I enrolled into the Australia EE in 2014 as a standalone class just for the seven graduate credits after reading about EE courses sent to the University of Hawaii at Hilo Marine Science Department's listserv (which I still check once in awhile for any career or graduate studies opportunities). Needless to say, I had a wonderful time and somewhat enjoyed the lessons then. (Evidence of me enjoying my Australia EE trip: 1, 2, and 3.)
|I learned a lot from my experience on the Australia EE in 2014; from learning about Great Barrier Reef ecology to the clouded rainforest of Paluma Range National Park, and being exposed for the first time to community-based conservation and inquiry-based learning. I think my favourite part of the trip was learning about and from the Nywaigi people of Australia at Mungalla Station. This picture is of the wetland restoration project the Cassady family has done at Mungalla Station.|
My first GFP class is a summer EE to Baja California. Initially, I was slightly disappointed in being placed into this EE. Because even though learning and experiencing the pelagic ecosystem of the Sea of Cortez would be amazing, I was not too keen to learn about the desert of Baja California. Why should I learn about the desert when I live and work in a tropical rainforest?! Even the text I had to read about the desert flora of Baja California is a boring and dry read. (Pun intended; I will show myself out.)
It was not until the long (but fun) drive (it turned out to be a roadtrip) into the desert on our way to Rancho San Gregorio did I realise how alive the desert of Baja California can be. I was seeing GREEN along Highway 1, a sight I would never have expected in a desert, even after reading about it.
|I expected the desert to be more like this. Photo credit.|
|Instead, I got views of lushness like this. Photo taken close to Catavina Town.|
|And this. Just look at how green the valley is! There are even visible green patches on the hill. Shameless selfie taken on a hike to view Cochimi cave paintings.|
|Rafael conducting an ethnobotany walk for the class. In this picture, I think Rafael was explaining about the palo verde tree, which is a source of food for horses and branches can be used to make tea.|
|Rafael explaining how the Villavicencio family has farmed in the desert for a long time. Behind him is a grape vine he or one of his relatives planted. The family has also planted date palm trees!|
Another surprisingly place to have green is on a mostly barren volcanic island about 800km away from Rancho San Gregorio in the Sea of Cortez. The class got to check out the cutest mangrove forest ever here. The craziest part of it all is that there is no freshwater visible on the island, with little rainfall too, and then BOOM! (insert "Surprise mutha..." Dexter meme) A thriving mangrove forest relying on saltwater.
This is just one of the few entries I am going to be writing about this EE. I am not sure when the next entry will be, but stay tuned? There are plenty yet to be shared.