When asked if he would be comfortable with the thought of camping outdoors during an eight-week summer field study program, Bemidji State University junior-to-be Jordan Morgan had to laugh.
“Not only am I comfortable with camping, I am excited to take part in it,” he replied. “Honestly, if we were camping the whole time, I’d be OK with that.”
Morgan, an environmental studies major from St. Peter, Minn., will be joining two dozen other college students from across the country to participate in the University of Washington’s Doris Duke Conservation Scholars program. While his own outdoor experiences are vast, the program will include students from diverse backgrounds, including students from urban areas such as Chicago and New York.
“Some of them will have never been camping before,” he said.
Morgan was selected from a field of 400 following a highly competitive application process. He and the other scholars will travel to Seattle and begin an eight-week “classroom in the field” journey to explore conservation across urban, managed and protected environments and connect conservation to cultural heritage and environmental justice. The program, which begins June 23, includes all travel costs, insurance and room and board expenses, and also includes a weekly $500 stipend.
The program opens with a three-week exploration of Seattle, with an emphasis on examining the city’s biodiversity, food, water and climate. From there, the program moves to Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, followed by a week at the North Cascades Institute, a week at The Nature Conservancy’s Moses Coulee Field Station, and a week at the Pack Forest Experimental Station near Mt. Rainier National Park and at Mt. St. Helens National Park.
The program includes weekly meetings with a student services coordinator, which will allow Morgan with opportunities to synthesize what he has learned during the field experience and think about how the experience might benefit him in the future. He hopes the program will help expand his experience with field research and solidify his desired career pathway which he hopes leads to a future as a professor.
“I’m just finishing my sophomore year, and it’s about the time where I have to be thinking about what I’m going to be doing after I finish my degree,” he said.
Morgan, who said he hasn’t done much traveling outside of Minnesota, hopes to absorb new perspectives and experiences from the other program participants and presenters while examining ways he might bring what he learns back to his home town.
“Right now, I’m a Bemidjian — that’s what I know and what I’ve been learning, and that’s great,” Morgan said. “But I have been trying to get a little bit more of a global perspective, and actually getting out there into a completely different environment will give that to me.
“I’m hoping to learn from other people. All of the other scholars got accepted, so it means they must be doing amazing things in their own communities,” he said. “I want to learn from them and see if I can apply what they’re doing to this area — especially if it’s the kind of thing not already being done here.”
• Erika Bailey-Johnson, Bemidji State University sustainability coordinator; (218) 755-2560
• Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
• Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program
• Olympic Natural Resources Center
• North Cascades Institute
• Moses Coulee Field Station
• Pack Forest Experimental Station
• Mt. St. Helens