A letter to past myself from your present (or future self?),
When you used to look at a map of the US, the state of Wyoming would barely register as a blank rectangle floating in the middle of the country, however when you get back and scan the poster on your bedroom wall you can’t quite help thinking of it as a treasure trove full of memories. By the end of this trip you’ll gain new knowledge, new perspective, new appreciation for the unknown, a new favorite flower (the glacial lily), new rock collection, a mean sock tan your almost proud of if it didn’t look so ridiculous, and one too many new t-shirts (oops).
Unsure of what to expect and rather nervous, you will be whisked away from the bustle of the Denver airport to the quiet city of Laramie where the University of Wyoming’s dorms will function as your cohorts home base. Up and out early each day armed with a field notebook, rock hammer, and extra strength bug spray you along with fourteen other similarly minded students will be thrust into a new world of ecology, paleontology, and geology made possible only by the fact that Wyoming has been blessed with a natural abundance and diversity in topography and landscape from semi-arid prairies to alpine glacier valleys. The experience will culminate in a trip around the state that only emphasizes this as you travel to places like the Yellowstone, to Sinks Canyon, and the badlands.
One of the first and foremost mantras of this trip that will be presented to you is “expect and accept nonclosure”. In an academic system that often shunts process to the side in favor of emphasis on result and correctness by answer or explanation, this statement may seem baffling at first. However, far from the curated laboratories and refined lectures you are presented in the classroom, the world you are studying out here is wild and fully unpredictable. You’ll learn that just like everything else in life not every lab or science activity will go as planned, sometimes your hypothesis will be wrong, you won’t always get a cut and dry answer, and you may not hear a single frogs while doing a point call survey in the middle of a wetland at 10 o’clock at night while it rains; and that’s perfectly fine. This field study will help to build you a repertoire of tools to question and analyze the natural world independently whether it be by transect line and daubenmire frame or stratigraphic column.
From this trip you will grow personally and academically in ways that are hard to imagine. After just completing your freshman year of college this program will help to validate your interest in pursuing a career and majoring in environmental science as well as reinforce your growing love of geology. Flexibility, adaption, and open mindedness are skills that you will practice and take back to serve you a lifetime in and outside the classroom. Keep up your motivation and be open to the inspiration you experience on your trip and let that carry you into a great second year of university full of intellectual curiosity and exploration of your interests.
Your Future Self
The sun is bright, maybe check that you packed stronger than just one tube of 30 SPF sunscreen, unless you want to spend the first week moonlighting as a lobster…