Wednesday, May 18, 2011

See Glacier Before the Glaciers are Gone; See Yellowstone Before the Supervolcano Blows: Take a Geology Field Course This Summer

There was a time when the our national parks seemed like unchangeable icons and symbols. They were protected from development, they were reservoirs of intact ecosystems and clean water and air, and a family might have told stories of camping in the olden days of the 30's and 40's, and until recently one could reasonably expect to have a similar experience in the current era. Times are changing, however. Glaciers are disappearing from Glacier National Park, forests and wildlife are transforming in parks like Yellowstone and Yosemite as the climate warms, and some parks are becoming isolated islands in seas of urban development. Views in parks like Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon and Sequoia are increasingly obscured by air pollution. Our orphaned parks, the state parks, are being being closed for lack of funding. Others face privatization. It's a shame that the best idea our country ever had is being in some ways abandoned. I would love to think that we are coming up with better ways of caring for our national and state treasures, but I am not optimistic. When budget cuts come, the parks get cut first.
I guess this is an odd way to extend an invitation! But if you live in the Modesto region (or are willing to make some major travel arrangements), we would like to invite you to travel with us on an exploration of some of our country's most precious places: the Pacific Northwest and the Northern Rocky Mountains. I'm working with our anthropology professor to offer a dyad class on the archaeology and geology of nine national parks and monuments (Lava Beds, Crater Lake, Newberry Crater, Mt. Rainier, Glacier, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Great Basin, Yosemite) as well as a multitude of state parks and other sites. And you can get three units of semester credit doing something interesting!
That's not to say there will be no have to learn stuff, and demonstrate it too us! And it is a camping excursion, with all the possibilities of rain, snow, sun, wind and critters. On the other hand, there will be plenty of opportunities to hike, to see starlight skies and wonderful sunsets, and to have a multitude of unforgettable and unique experiences. If you are interested, see the press release below for more information. We are having an informational meeting on Monday if you live nearby. We can provide info by e-mail if you can't come to the meeting.

MJC offers new Geology and Archaeology summer field studies class

(Modesto, CA) — Modesto Junior College is offering a unique summer field studies course entitled Geology and Archaeology of the Pacific Northwest and Northern Rocky Mountains held June 15 to June 30, 2011. Anyone interested in enrolling in this special learning opportunity is invited to attend the orientation meeting on Monday, May 23 at 7 p.m. in Science 132 on East Campus.

The course will provide an exploration of Yellowstone, Crater Lake, Grand Tetons and Glacier National Parks, and Mount St. Helens and Lava Beds National Monuments. Participants will also have the chance to visit and discover some less familiar spots that provide evidence of the geological and human history of the region, including Great Basin National Park, Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park, Fossil Butte National Monument, and Newberry Crater.

The new joint class is being taught by Professor of Anthropology Susan Kerr and Professor of Geology Garry Hayes and students will earn 3 semester units in either Geology 174 or Anthropology 174. A background is not required in either of these subjects. Basic principles will be developed prior to and during the course, and participation will benefit anyone interested in a career in teaching, park management and rangering, or science.

The group will camp in the parks and monuments and the $650 class fee includes all transportation, camping fees, park admission fees, and food. A registration fee of $26 per unit is additional, as are other applicable fees for those not already enrolled as an MJC student. Anyone wishing to register for the class who is not already enrolled as an MJC student must submit an application online at

For additional information email Susan Kerr at or Garry Hayes or visit for a complete itinerary.


Karen said...

Wow, what an itinerary! How many weeks does your class run?

Garry Hayes said...

Two weeks, from June 15-30

Rockdawg said...

Sounds like a great course. I wish I could take it, but unfortunately I have other commitments for part of that time. If you ever offer it again, please post it as soon as its a go, maybe that way I can take it.