Mind Trip

Yellowstone experience is much more than magnificent scenery and souvenirs

Photo by Mike Kropf ’14

Since 2006,  groups of Longwood students and faculty have been setting out in May  on  an annual academic pilgrimage to Yellowstone National Park.  Like the many students before them, those who traveled to Yellowstone in 2013  were seeking more than just magnificent scenery and some souvenirs.

The  Longwood @ Yellowstone program has been developed as a way for young people to gain a new perspective on  what it takes to apply a university education to real-world problems. “Longwood at Yellowstone is focused on  engaging students in meaningful issues in their communities by first engaging them in the Yellowstone ecosystem,” said Carl Riden, associate professor of sociology.

This  year’s participants — majoring in a variety of disciplines, from art to science, geography to mathematics — looked into topics such as land and water conservation, wildlife management and business.

“When many students leave for Yellowstone, they think they have the answers,” said Alix Fink, associate professor of biology and dean of the Cormier Honors College. “Then they start talking to ranchers and the people who actually live the experience and realize they really have more questions than answers.”