This course has taught me how connected the land and ocean are, how diverse and important estuaries are, and how bizarrely interesting the creatures of the deep sea that seem to live in a different world than the rest of the ocean. I learned that despite the ocean covering about 70% of our Earth, we still have only explored about 5% of the ocean. I always knew that there was still much knowledge to be gathered from/about the ocean, but those numbers speak for themselves. This course was crucial in understanding not only specific marine environments and ecosystems, but also in truly realizing how vital the ocean is to the processes and health of the Earth. As a student, this was my first strictly marine-based class and I have come out of it with a wealth of information and skills that I know I will use both in and out of my university. I honestly don't think that I could have gained everything that I gained from this course in a normal classroom setting. This five and half week course was intense and we would often spend over 7 hours outside before/after putting in some time in the classroom. We worked on homework after our scheduled day was over and went to bed so we could be ready to get right back to work the next morning and I loved it! Dana already mentioned that we used about 85% of most equipment used in the field and I think that is worth mentioning again. We also learned how all of these devices operated and tested/measured samples obtained from the equipment. Being able to see the scientific process carried out on such a large, detailed, real-life scenario scale was more valuable than I could have hoped for. I feel very fortunate not only for taking this course, but for taking it when I did. As an undergraduate that is very early in their science path, I feel so energized to master my future marine classes and have a better idea of which marine classes I would prefer to take.
The professors in this course were not only the best professors I've ever worked with, but also some of the most passionate and caring people, as well. They genuinely care about what we as their students take away from all of these lessons as much as spreading important knowledge about science and the ocean to the public. Some of these professors are in several councils and/or other programs along with their teaching jobs and it encourages me to see how many different avenues I may be able pursue on top of my career. I want to thank each and every professor for letting us pester you all with questions 24/7 during that week and for responding with answers that were so honest, thoughtful, and helpful. I know that some/most of you did this as volunteer work and fit us into your already packed schedules and I want to thank you because every minute you spent with this class meant the world to all of us.
Brock, you were more than a good sport and no class ever will have a cooler TA than you. Thanks for being our friend and making the experience that much more fun. Dr. Hackney and Dr. Judkins, thank you both very much for organizing this incredible opportunity for all of us this year. And a life-long thank you to FIO for making this scientific journey possible.
To my colleges (as Zach would say):
How ridiculously lucky I am to have met each and every one of you. Kristiana, I really loved what you did and want to do my own version of it...
Foxy Layna, your compassion and love of outdoors is delightfully refreshing. Yoga on girl because who says you can't be smart and centered ;)?
Balanced Breeze, it was so touching to see you take this academic and incredibly personal journey. Your immense knowledge and skill set along with your unbelievably positive attitude will take you wherever you want.
Stunning Destiny, you are definitely one of the strongest people I know, in every sense of the word. You work hard to get the job done and done right, and know exactly how to jump off of a bridge and relax afterwards!
Sizzlin' Danielle, you are a spitfire and nothing will ever stop you from getting where you want in life! That passion is something special and your smarts will only increase that red-hot confidence over time.
Smokin' Kristiana, you are so beautiful inside and out, and your lovely artwork shows just a glimpse of how well-rounded you are. Your intelligence and hilariousness will take you to wherever/whenever you decide to hit the brakes.
Meisterful Aaron, we gave you a hard time but it truly was awesome having you on this trip. Your quick wit and extensive knowledge might even land you your own Star Wars business venture someday...
Wonderful Wally, you are easily the sweetest person I have ever met. You really know your fish and your skills and kindness are appreciated by so many.
Tiffany Tiffany, you already know how much I love you but I just wanted to say it again anyways! Your confidence radiates and enraptures everyone you encounter and no one can help but to love you :)
"You all make the world a better place just by being in it"