Honors Seminar Explores Mississippi Wetlands

By Jade Jacobs

In order to achieve the gratification of graduating as an alum of the Kugelman Honors Program, there are an extra set of requirements placed upon students. Although some may see these merely as hoops to jump through to complete the program, these courses offer enrichment and experiences unavailable to the general student body. Honors seminars in particular offer their students the chance to take a course that could be vastly different from their major of study, and allows them to delve into a subject they are intrigued by or passionate about.

When I was creating my fall schedule, the Wastelands to Wetlands seminar offered with Dr. Jane Caffrey instantly grabbed my attention. As a marine biology major, I saw the course as a way to further expand my repertoire of classes that relate to my future career. However, since the first day of the course in August, it has become so much more.

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Andrew Holzinger. Photo by Jade Jacobs.

My fellow classmates range in majors from history and international studies to music and marine biology. Together we’re able to explore the biodiversity of the salt marshes along with the impact that human development has inflicted upon them. Having such a diverse group of people has created an environment that promotes discussion with viewpoints as varied as the people who share them. We’re able to dive deeper into the material and open our minds far more than if we all came from similar backgrounds or were following the same path.

Yes, reading articles and comparing photographs and statistics in the classroom gives us an idea of what is going on in the field, but that doesn’t compare to experiencing it firsthand. So, that’s exactly what we did.

Friday September 16th through Saturday 17th, our class took a trip to Grand Bay Estuarine Research Reserve in Moss Point, Mississippi. This trip offered us so much more than a couple days off campus and out of the classroom; it became a bonding experience as well as a learning one. Everything from staying in the research facilities’ dormitories to viewing osprey and dolphins from the boat brought all eleven of us closer to each other and closer to the world around us.

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Photo by Dr. Caffrey

“Being there and seeing the salt marsh in person made the readings we did for class come to life, and the information that we’re learning clicked and made sense,” said second year Honors student Bayla Bessemer.

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Photo by Jade Jacobs

The field trip in our Wastelands to Wetlands seminar allowed us to not only learn about the salt marsh, but to experience it for ourselves. The trip also gave us a chance to step away from the hustle and bustle of college life to remind us how much the little things matter. These seminars are so much more than requirements; they’re opportunities and open doors to the world around us.

REP image by Dr. Caffrey

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