UMF students and faculty canoeing for a field work experience.

Fieldwork

Fieldwork complements the teaching and research that UMF students experience on-campus in classrooms and laboratories. It offers the opportunity for students to conduct observations and experiments that simulate the type of work they may do in their chosen fields, from a geologist or an archeologist.

Marine Biology:

Salmon Egg Project

Reese Mertz ('23)

Putting a historical spin on Marine Biology, students in Prof. Nancy Prentiss’s Honors course studied the connection between migratory fish and those of Ancient Greece. Using the Atlantic Salmon as a model to learn about migratory species, UMF students collaborates with the Maine Department of Marine Resources to plant approximately 10,000 Atlantic salmon eggs in nearby Temple Stream. Reese Mertz ('23) described how exhilarating it was to participate in this field experience: “There was something about being out there, in the water, that brought a certain understanding to the spawning of salmon that a textbook or lecture fails to do. We were able to feel the struggle and lengths to which the salmon go through just to keep living. This allowed us to do something good for the environment, to learn in a new way, and to gain an experience that other students may miss out on if they only work in labs."

UMF Students working with the Maine Dept. of Marine Resources to plant salmon eggs in Temple Stream.

First Year Fusion:

Mapping out Communities 

In an innovative twist on the First Year Seminar, UMF students have begun piloting a new set of First Year Fusion courses that begin their college career with an intensive week of fieldwork prior to the start of the Fall Semester. One of these courses was Making Change in Maine that brought together UMF alumni with incoming students. Traveling up to Monson, the students met with UMF alumni Esther Butler (‘14) who worked with the students to identify sidewalk hazards by using a cane while wearing modified goggles to simulate a range of visual impairments. The UMF students then mapped sidewalk hazards using a GIS application. The students went on to several other destinations around the State "learning by doing" with local Change Makers. 

Students navigate sidewalks to understand their hazards before mapping them with GIS software

Biology:

Mammalogy

Haley Kerin ('22)

Students in Prof. Doni Schwalm’s Mammalogy course experience what it is like to conduct a professional field research project from start to finish, something that Haley Kerin (‘22) believes is still helping her in her other courses almost two years later. The course begins with students developing a research proposal and budget that they use to help collect and analyze data. They then create a manuscript based on their findings in the format used for publication in a scientific journal. Haley credits this course with teaching her “many fieldwork skills and how to work with a group outside of a lab. Out in the field, I learned how to set up field cameras, take vegetation data samples, measure the amount of canopy cover, and properly set up scent lures away from a camera.”

Students set out to discover if road salts were

impacting the Beaver Brook stream's salinity 

UMF student Haley Kerin ('22) collecting data for her final project in the Mammalogy course.

Geography:

Beaver Brook Salinity

Zack Laflamme ('23) 

In light of the high amount of road salt usage during a Farmington winter, students in Prof. Jesse Minor’s Physical Geography course set out to discover if road salts had an adverse impact on the nearby Beaver Brook stream. Students began their fieldwork by traveling to various locations along the stream to collect data, taking into consideration various factors such as time of day, air, water and snow temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and direction. Based on the data they collected, the students concluded that there was a higher salinity level downstream, indicating that road salt is most likely affecting nearby vegetation and wildlife. Zack Laflamme ('23) described how their fieldwork “definitely enhanced the class because we were going outside and learning things about Farmington that you wouldn't otherwise think about. Our (fieldwork) with our class discussion made it all flow together.”

Zack Laflamme ('23) and his classmates set out to assess the impact of road salts on Beaver Brook.

Biology:

Landscape Ecology 

In Prof. Doni Schwalm's Landscape Ecology course, UMF students have a variety of opportunities for fieldwork. One of the most popular outings is a canoe trip on Flying Pond, about 20 minutes southeast of Farmington, where they research island bio-geography - a wonderful way to appreciate autumn in Maine. The students then take the data they have collected and analyze it through different spatial data analysis programs. Their fieldwork experience in Landscape Ecology gives them first-hand experience of what a career in conservation might look like a. 

Landscape Ecology students conducting field work on Flying Pond in their Landscape Ecology course.

Last Updated August 2020 University of Maine Farmington - Office of Experiential & Global Education

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