Geology Field Camp attracts students from across the country

(06-26-2015)

The unique geology of Colorado and New Mexico attracted 26 students from 11 universities across the nation to Adams State University's four-week, intensive Geology Field Camp, which recently concluded in June.

This was the eighth field camp coordinated by Adam State Professor of Geology and Earth Sciences, Dr. Rob Benson, who hopes to offer the course annually. Hiking and camping for a month in five regions ranging from the deserts of New Mexico to the mountains of Colorado, field camp participants developed mapping skills and honed their geologic intuition.

"Mapping is the key underpinning to geology," Benson explained. "You have to be able to pin all your observations back to the field area. This allows students to tie everything from lecture together." Teaching this course provides Benson with the opportunity to return to his roots as a field geologist.

He noted the camp's low student-to-faculty ratio is one advantage offered by Adams State's field camp. To provide individual-focused instruction, Benson was assisted by recent graduates of his program, Deacon Aspinwall and Rachel Powell.

Deacon Aspinwall (right) a recent graduate from Adams State's Geology and Earth Sciences program, helps a field camp participant interpret a map.

Powell found there was never a dull moment when working alongside Benson. "He has a sharp intellect, quirky sense of humor, and strong work ethic," she said. This made the "spirit of field camp light-hearted," despite the constant challenges.

Field camp allows students to create their own meaningful experiences. Jordan Yatska, a senior at Adams, joked that the most rewarding part of field camp was that everyone survived. She added, "But seriously, it was cool to see how much I learned by the end, and all of the awesome people I met!"

Benson attributes some of the success of the program to the diversity of field camp attendees. By offering the course through the Extended Studies program, ASU draws students from a variety of backgrounds. Benson said those from other universities were impressed by the facilities and the quality of education.

In order to be successful at field camp, Yatska advised future students to "come mentally and physically prepared." Powell reiterated that to best prep, students should "get in shape!" Benson's message to future students? Plan on having more fun than ever while working exceptionally hard.

By Maddie Mansheim, ASU Class of 2015