High School Field Studies
Field studies is an advanced biology course offered to 11th and 12th grade students from Austin and Decatur High Schools. Field studies is a course that gets students out of the classroom and into the environment. On a regular basis students go to various field sites to seine organisms, wade streams, hike, explore, and hopefully make a positive impact on our environment.
A major emphasis of the class is centered on aquatic studies, especially during the warmer months. Students learn about the dynamics of aquatic ecosystems by actually traversing through them, collecting samples, taking measurements, and making calculations. In the process various types of nets and seines are used to capture fish and invertebrates that are often biological indicators of the habitat's health. Many of the organisms collected are brought back to the center to be maintained and further studied. These bioassessments are conducted using indicator species whose abundance or scarcity tell us a great deal about an environment's ability to support biodiversity, a critical modern problem.
Another aspect of the course involves the caring and husbandry of the live animals in residence at the center. Their life support requirements are useful to understanding the ecology of the habitats that students study during the year. In turn these activities enhance other units of study including amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals, and marine organisms.
Students maintain species accounts of every animal they work with.