JACKIE BORCHARDT Casper Star-Tribune | Posted: Saturday, October 3, 2009 12:00 am | 1 Comment
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CASPER – The heavy fishing line pulled tight.
Underwater, a 25-pound halibut nibbled the herring bait and found the 3-inch hook. The flat fish wasn’t easy to pull out of the water, but Worland’s Samantha Fawcett did it a couple of times.
The Casper College sophomore had never fished halibut before her trip to Alaska in July. She was able to keep two and carried the frozen fish home to Wyoming on the plane. The fishing expedition wasn’t part of a vacation. Fawcett was in a course called “Arctic Dreams” at Casper College. She learned more from the trip than she could have from a book, she said.
“Your impressions of a place aren’t always correct,” she said. “It’s important to see for yourself firsthand, especially in sociology, what people actually are like.”
The course combined two three-credit classes, environmental literature and environmental sociology, and culminated in a 10-day trip to Alaska’s southern coast. The class met twice in Casper to discuss reading assignments and prepare for the trip. English instructor David Zoby and sociology instructor Chad Hanson taught the course, which was part of the college’s learning community program. In learning communities, a small group of students takes multiple courses, usually across disciplines, and set a common goal.
“We had students who weren’t friends before, and now I see them around together,” Zoby said.
The group left on July 23 and flew to Homer, Alaska, population 5,364. They took a water taxi – there are no roads – to the Peterson Bay Field Station on the south shore of Kachemak Bay. Cell phones and music players were confiscated. By day, they hiked glaciers and waded into the bay in rubber boots. By night, they rested in simple bunk beds in a wooden yurt heated by a wood-burning stove.
“We didn’t want to do a trip where we handed everything over to a tour,” Zoby said.
Their visit also included several speakers and discussions with locals. Zoby hopes to return next summer with another group of students.
Contact Jackie Borchardt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 307-266-0593.