Conservation Field Trips: Why They Matter
If you have come to university to learn about conservation and use your brain to solve issues, you may wonder why you’re being asked to poke around in the mud.
By Olivia Maes AMSB
BA (Hons) Natural Sciences: Zoology, Veteran Volunteer @oamaes
As part of some conservation-orientated courses (Zoology, Ecology, etc) there will be the opportunity to go on a field trip. If you have come to university to learn about conservation and use your brain to solve issues, you may wonder why you’re being asked to poke around in the mud. However, as will be explained below, these trips are vital to your success in the conservation sector.
As mentioned before, hands-on experience is needed in conservation. It is useful to be able to identify species, and this takes practice. Equally, to conserve a habitat you need to understand its ecosystem relations, which can be demonstrated in the field. The aim of the field trips is to become familiar in practice with what you are learning about in theory. Only by being able to relate the theory with the reality in the field can you make sound conservation decisions.
Another reason why field trips are important is that you are helping the environment while doing the work. Your transects may reveal an issue with an invasive species, or your measurements may show a degradation in soil quality. Thanks to the physical changes you make to the land, and the information you provide through research, the area can be better managed or protected.
Field trips are also social occasions: giving the opportunity to build relationships with classmates, to network by meeting people in the sector, and see new places. Many of my classmates said their favourite memories of their Zoology course were of the field trips. As with overseas volunteering, the experience is rewarding in itself.
Lastly, doing hands-on work in the field is a different form of learning to books. It can be a refreshing break from the lecture theatre and library. Amidst the stress of passing exams, it helps you reconnect with why you choose to do the course. With your sense of awe, and passion for nature re-awakened, you can focus on your study of the natural world and its conservation.