The Blue Mountain Outdoor School is a week-long immersive summer school for regional high school students interested in the natural sciences. Students will live on the Whitman College campus and experience college life first-hand.
Students will be introduced to a comprehensive and diverse natural resources curriculum. The courses will be taught by Whitman College faculty and include geology, ecology, environmental studies, zoology, outdoor recreation, astronomy, and hydrology. Each day, students will visit locations around the region that will involve experiential, hands-on learning.
Students who participate in the Blue Mountain Outdoor School will be steeped in exploration of the natural environment, giving real-life meaning to academic learning while deepening their understanding of the natural world.
The Blue Mountain Outdoor shool is for students looking to explore environmental systems more in depth while honing their field research skills, all in the beauty of the Washington Cascade Mountains.
How to apply:
- Submit registration
- Pay the 25% deposit to hold your spot
Dates: June 17 - June 22, 2018
Cost: $900 per student. Need-based scholarships are available.
Accomodations: Whitman College's Residence Halls
Instructors: Whitman College faculty and natural resource eperts. For the full list click here.
Additional Info: Participants do not need any special experience, though they should be in good physical condition and able to work within a cooperative group setting.
Subject: Welcome and Orientation
Instructor: Whitman College and Blue Mountain Land Trust staff
Students will be welcomed to Whitman College by Whitman and BMLT staff and volunteers. A tour of the campus will be followed by an overview of the upcoming week. The day will close with a get-acquainted dinner for resident and day students.
Field Trip: Wallula Gap
Instructor: Bob Carson, Professor Emeritus of Geology and Environmental Studies
Students will be led by Professor Carson on several stops through Wallula Gap as he shares the story of the Missoula Floods and discusses how they shaped eastern Washington.
The class will begin with an overview of eastern Washington geology near the mouth of the Walla Walla River and Wallula Junction. Students will examine geological features along the Spring Creek and conclude the session with a short hike to the Twin Sisters, a geological feature along the Wallula Gap that overlooks the Columbia River.
Field Trip: Harris Park
Instructor: Delbert Hutchison, Associate Professor of Biology and Ecology
Students will join Professor Hutchison in a study of the ecological biology of Harris Park in Northeast Oregon.
At the start of the class, students will study the basics of botany and be able to identify native flora within the region. Professor Hutchison will then discuss the symbiotic relationship between vegetation health and stream quality conditions that currently affect the fish population in the Walla Walla River. This class will conclude with the students thoughtfully reflecting on nature’s interconnectedness and how anthropogenic change has played a significant role in altering natural relations.
Subject: Environmental Studies
Field Trip: Bennington Lake
Instructor: Amy Molitor, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies
Professor Molitor will teach the students how to develop Geological Information System (GIS) Maps by mapping Bennington Lake in Walla Walla.
Students will receive a lecture on the importance of GIS mapping and learn how to properly collect data when developing a map. They will then go on a field trip to Bennington Lake and gather the information necessary to develop their maps. Back on campus, they will compute their data and output their individual maps of Bennington Lake.
Instructor: Kate Jackson, Assistant Professor of Biology
Professor Jackson will introduce students to Zoology, with a focus on reptilian identification. During the class, she will utilize several live species of snakes and demonstrate how to properly identify and handle these reptiles.
Subject: Outdoor Recreation
Excursion: Sea Kayaking
Instructor: Stuart Chapin, Assistant Director, Whitman College Outdoor Program
Stuart Chapin will get students outdoors to experience the beauty of nature.
Stuart will introduce the students to sea kayaking at Bennington Lake in Walla Walla. Students will learn the safety protocols of sea kayak operation and discover how to properly propel themselves across the water. The session will conclude with instruction in map reading that will aid the students in their future wilderness adventures.
Lecture: Planetarium and Telescope
Instructor: Andrea Dobson, Associate Professor of Astronomy and General Studies
Students will join Professor Dobson as she lectures about basic star identification, all while giving the students an exclusive planetarium show at Whitman College.
At the conclusion of the planetarium lecture, Professor Dobson will take the students to the roofs at Whitman College and use telescopes to view various stars and planets in the night sky.
Field Trip: Intake Trail & Water Treatment Center
Instructor: Nick Bader, Assistant Professor of Environmental Geology
Professor Bader will introduce the students to Walla Walla’s water supply by leading a hike to the Drinking Water Intake Trail in Northeast Oregon. After a lecture on the origin of the Walla Walla Valley’s water supply, students will visit the Water Treatment Center in Walla Walla to see how water is treated for domestic use.
Subject: Environmental Studies
Field Trip: Tiger Canyon
Instructor: Mike Denny, Walla Walla Audubon Society
Former President of the Walla Walla Audubon Society, Mike Denny, will give the students a natural history tour of Tiger Canyon in Northeastern Oregon.
During this adventure up the western face of the Blue Mountains, students will view the North Fork of the Walla Walla River watershed and the upper Mill Creek watershed. They will look at many types of species of plants, birds, mammals and amphibians along with butterflies, moths and other insects. The students will end the class by constructing a Haiku poem based on their experiences in the Canyon.
Subject: Your Future, Your College
Instructors: Staff of the Whitman College Office of Admission
The school’s final session will be a discussion on selecting colleges, an overview of educational and financial options, and pointers on how students can make good decisions about their post high school educations. This session will be led by Admission staff members.