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Take a Once-in-a-Lifetime Class - in Canada!

Fri, Nov 15th, 2013

Twenty years ago, Hocking College and Haliburton Forest and Wildlife Reserve met at a wildlife conference and decided to form a partnership to benefit the students, the college and the nearly 100,000 acre Haliburton Forest. As a result, for the past 20 years, Hocking College students take an annual trip each summer to live and study within the forest in a rustic lakeshore camp for one month, known as Stocking Lake Moose Camp, with no electricity, phones, or running water, for a practical experience like no other.

Over the years, more than 300 Hocking College students have made the journey to Haliburton Forest. Haliburton is located some five hours north of Toronto in Ontario, Canada. The trip provides an integrated curriculum for students, studying the northern ecosystems including lakes, forests, rivers, streams, plants and animals while living within the ecosystems they are studying.

The Haliburton management philosophy focus consists of five pillars including: forestry, wildlife, fisheries, recreation and education. Hocking College students perform studies while at Haliburton, integrating both the focus of the forest and the curriculum.  All studies directly affect the decision-making and management practices on the forest lands. Because of this unique relationship, the Hocking College studies benefit the college, the forest and the student.

Normally, a group of 15-20 students attend what is affectionately known as “The Canada Trip.” For students who have already experienced the trip, they can have a second opportunity to return as a technician. The technicians have added responsibilities including preparation, planning, and report writing.

Curriculum for the trip includes four different courses: Field Ecology/Biology, Aquatic Ecology, Wildlife Techniques and Fish Management.  This is a great way to open up the normally busy curriculum throughout the year and also offer opportunities for our students to take other courses as electives or track toward a dual degree. No prerequisites are required for the trip.

Before leaving, students attend a series of lectures for each of the four courses to enable them to concentrate on field studies the entire time they are at Haliburton. Upon arrival, students meet with the owner, manager and biologist of Haliburton, as well as representatives of the Ministry of Natural Resources from Ontario, and learn about the different aspects and goals of Haliburton and the Ministry.  

This trip is considered a research project and is a fantastic resume builder. Students work with both water and land elements.

In the water, the students will monitor the lakes, rivers and streams, sampling fish and aquatic macroinvertabrate populations, conducting water chemistry tests and mapping the lakes physical characteristics.  Students often work alongside professional biologists to provide data resulting in suggestions on how to improve the reserve’s management of their aquatic systems and how the forest operations effect the ecosystems in a measurable way.

On land, they work with various mega-fauna such as bears, moose and wolves as well as the ever present and ever fluctuating small mammal populations, mice, voles, chipmunks, lemmings and flying squirrels.

Near the end of the trip, students participate in an evening seminar on “The Wolves of Haliburton” presented to the public each year, which culminates in the first public wolf howl of the year. Hocking students lead the howl. The event is very popular and well attended by staff and local community.  For the last several years, approximately 300 people have been in attendance.

Not only do the students have the opportunity to work with professionals, leaving an ever-lasting improvement to the reserve, they also interact with and occasionally participate in studies conducted by graduate level students from the University of Toronto. This gives the students a unique chance to consider the benefits of graduate work in their future.

Students thoroughly enjoy this trip. They return feeling inspired and eager to continue their education. Out of the 300 total students that have been on this trip, all have gone on to graduate from Hocking College. Many have moved on to further their education while others have moved directly into the natural resource field. Many alumni who have attended this trip throughout the 20-year period have indicated that it helped them make life-changing decisions involving their life and career.

The 2014 Haliburton trip is tentatively scheduled for June 9 - July 6, 2014. This does not include time allotted for lecture before leaving and data analysis and report writing that occurs upon return. Student must have a passport to cross the border.

To read more about Haliburton Forest and Wildlife Reserve visit their website at http://www.haliburtonforest.com/.

For more information contact Ron Cass at cassr@hocking.edu, Joe Cahill at cahillj@hocking.edu or Syre Flannagan at flanagans@hocking.edu.