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Northwest geology students spent two weeks touring the western United State, including a variety of national parks and monuments. (Submitted photo)

Northwest geology students spent two weeks touring the western United State, including a variety of national parks and monuments. (Submitted photo)

Aug. 6, 2018

Geology students gain firsthand experience during western U.S. tour

Nineteen Northwest Missouri State University students and a pair of faculty members spent part of their July exploring the western U.S., including some of the country’s most famed national parks.

The students, along with geology faculty Jeff Bradley and Dr. John Pope spent two weeks traveling through Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming and Montana. Their stops were numerous and included highlights such as Rocky Mountain National Park, Dinosaur National Monument, Rio Tinto Kennecott Copper Mine and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and Old Faithful Geyser Basin. They camped nearly every night and hiked locations including Mount St. Helens and Mount Rainier.

In addition to visiting and hiking through parks, the group made numerous roadside stops to allow students opportunities to collect rock and mineral samples, either for their own collections or to acquire samples they could donate to the geology department for further study.

Tyler Helm, a senior geology major from Creston, Iowa, said the travel opportunity increased his knowledge of volcanoes and mountains in addition to a greater appreciation for national parks. He aspires to build a career in researching rock units in the Midwest or teaching at a college or university.

“I feel like the best way to learn something is firsthand, and it’s great to see such famous landmarks and learn their history,” Helm said. “For me the part that stood out the most was how amazing the landscape was, being able to see the change in scenery from state to state was incredible.”

Students earned three academic credits by participating in the experience, which was designed to give students a more thorough understanding of geologic history throughout the region, including some of its most iconic national parks.

“Getting students in the field helps to reinforce the concepts that students learn in the classroom,” Bradley said. “We also hope that, by seeing these environments in person, students will gain further enthusiasm for their chosen field of geology. It’s very gratifying to see students get fired up when they get a chance to climb around on the geologic structures that they’ve been reading about in textbooks.”

While most of the students who participated in the experience are geology majors, Bradley also encourages non-geology majors to enroll in the summer course, provided they have completed the general geology or general Earth Science courses.

For more information about Northwest’s Department of Natural Sciences and its programs, click here.


Dr. Mark Hornickel
Administration Building
Room 215