Wyoming Spring Creek Introduction

Hello, I’m Zach Burke, and I will be entering my last semester this fall as an Ecology and Evolution major with a minor in religious studies. Most of my interests are related to the Ecology field; I enjoy spending my time hiking, birding, and fly-fishing. Some of my other favorite activities are photography, basketball, reading and skateboarding. At Pitt, I am president of our Fly-Fishing Club as well as a member of Pitt Ski and Snowboarding Club and Outdoor Club. Following graduation, I am planning on attending graduate school and hopefully finding a job in research or at least something that keeps me outside. While I enjoy everything about ecology, I have recently been gravitating towards wetland ecology and restoration.

In about a week, I will be heading to Laramie, Wyoming for the six-week Spring Creek program through the Honors College.  There is a lot on the agenda for the trip with a focus on Ecology, Geology, and Paleontology. Maybe the most exciting part for me will be the independent research component. Having access to essentially untouched archaeology and paleontology sites is something I am really excited to explore since I have almost no experience with those fields.

I chose the Wyoming Spring Creek program for a few different reasons. It satisfies the field course requirement for my major but more importantly, I will be gaining experience with field research in a region unfamiliar to me. Despite my future plans, I have not been closely involved with research before and I cannot think of anywhere better to start. Having never ventured outside the east coast, Yellowstone is one of the places I have always dreamed about visiting. Spending six weeks exploring the area was an opportunity that I knew I had to jump on. I am looking forward to learning about plants and animals unfamiliar to me as well as the surrounding geology. While I have a little bit of geology experience through my degree, I cannot confidently identify structures in the field and am hoping to gain a deeper understanding of the things I have learned at Pitt so far. Learning things hands-on always seems to make for more meaningful connections, and I think this trip will have a significant impact on both my education and growth as a person.

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