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Foundations of Biology Class Returns to Albion

Emily Mathe, August 25, 2014
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For a week in early August, Pacific Union College Professor of Biology Aimee Wyrick-Brownworth took the students in her Biological Foundations summer class to PUC’s Albion Retreat and Learning Center on the Mendocino coast. The class, which focused heavily on understanding species diversity, implemented outdoor, hands-on lab sessions so students could see how plants and animals had adapted in unique and specific ways to their environment. “The students’ understanding was improved because they could actually see what these animals deal with and the adaptation became an obvious outcome,” said Wyrick.

Biomathematics major Taleah Tyrell appreciated the opportunity to get an up-close view of the organisms she’d studied in. “It was great to go to a place and see these organisms we had spent hours memorizing in their natural habitat,” she stated. “It’s one thing to memorize; it’s a completely different thing to see the animals.”

In addition to the outstanding academic setting, the students formed new connections with each other. “It was a great opportunity for us all to come to know each other much better,” said Wyrick. “The students really bonded during the week and it felt like a family. Having the group in camp also facilitated learning. There were fewer distractions and so more time to spend on the class and studying.”

Charles De Guzman, a biophysics major getting ready to start his second year at PUC, said he was very impressed by the beauty and wilderness of the retreat location. “During our free time, we had the opportunity to canoe up the estuary and see a wide array of flora and fauna, including seals or sea jellies that would swim right beside our canoes,” he said. The students’ research was not limited to the area directly around Albion. Often, Wyrick would take her class on field trips to nearby Mendocino and Fort Bragg for more labs. “The week in Albion really made the subject of biology come to life,” stated De Guzman.

Rischel Tabiolo, an incoming sophomore studying biology and pre-optometry, said the Albion outings gave students the opportunity to gather their own samples and observe them in close quarters. “It was a really rewarding experience to see our work pay off,” she said.

Recently, the Albion campus has often been used to facilitate photography and visual arts retreats, but the Biological Foundations field trip is one step in a gradual process to bring more science classes back to Albion. “I am working with the Academic Dean and several PUC professors to offer summer courses at Albion in the future,” concluded Wyrick. “We want students and professors to know that Albion is a rich resource and a wonderful place to learn.”

In addition to hosting college classes, the Albion Retreat and Learning Center is an ideal place for department and club retreats. Albion also regularly hosts visitors to the beautiful Mendocino coast, from families on vacation to larger retreats. Learn more about the Albion Retreat and Learning Center online.