Zoology Students Visit Croatan Forest
As part of its commitment to academic excellence and innovative learning opportunities, Bluefield College is offering its science students the opportunity to learn not only in the classroom, but also inside national forests.

Zoology Students Visit Croatan Forest

By Student Marketing Associate Dagoberto Acevedo | June 12, 2017 | RSS

As part of its commitment to academic excellence and innovative learning opportunities, Bluefield College is offering its science students the opportunity to learn not only in the classroom, but also inside national forests and alongside riverbanks and ocean shores, thanks to a unique zoology course offered at the school.

Offered by the BC College of Sciences, the zoology course is a one semester class that surveys the various phylum within the animal kingdom. According to Dr. Martin Offield, professor of biology, the course focuses on the defining characteristics of animals, including distinctive anatomy and physiology, means of reproduction, and roles they play within ecosystems.

Students in the zoology class are offered the opportunity to travel with their professors on a hands-on expedition. This spring, students Caden Minnix and Aaron Swingle took advantage of that opportunity with a field trip to Emerald Isle, North Carolina, and the nearby Croatan National Forest.

There, under the supervision of Dr. Offield and Dr. Joe Saunders, professor of chemistry, the students set out to collect, classify, and preserve 40 different insects from 10 different orders. With both a riverfront and marsh and marine environments, the Croatan National Forest provided the students with a diversity of potential locations to find the different types of insects.

On day one, the students spent several hours in the field on the southeast edge of the Croatan Forest along the Patsy Pond Nature Trail where they caught grasshoppers, dragon flies, beetles and other insects. The spent half of day two in the middle of the Croatan National Forest in an area around Catfish Lake. There, along the road between the marshes they chased butterflies. At Catfish Lake, some species of butterflies were so numerous that the students observed them along the lake shore in groups of 10 or more. They finished day two of collecting along the Neuse River.

“I think that the most important thing that I learned is that to learn a particular subject or field you have to get involved personally,” said Minnix, who acknowledged the importance of class work, but noted it is not always enough. “Sometimes, this means you’ll have to go out into the field and get real experience.”

Minnix said he enjoyed visiting the different locations within the national park, collecting in the field, and spending time with his classmate and professors. Dr. Offield added that what appreciated most about the trip was getting to know the students personally.

“Most nights we were up late seeing who could beat Dr. Saunders at chess,” said Dr. Offield. “During the day, we were digging in old logs for beetles and termites and chasing butterflies along a country road.”

The weekend field trip for the students also included a trip to the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores where they observed a large variety of marine and freshwater fish, amphibians, reptiles and even otters, which live in the region. By the end of the trip, Dr. Offield said he had developed a renewed sense of appreciation for the beauty of what God has made and the complexity of nature.

Media Contact

Student Marketing Associate Dagoberto Acevedo