By Kristin Kennedy
NEW ALBANY, Ind. — As Indiana celebrates its bicentennial and IU Southeast observes its 75th anniversary, the IU Southeast Field Biology program is celebrating a significant milestone of its own.
The Field Biology program has enabled students to explore more than 20 countries on four continents and two oceanic areas, all within 20 years. To commemorate these unique opportunities afforded to students over the past two decades, the program will hold an event called 20 Countries in 20 Years on Saturday, March 5, from 7 to 10 p.m. in University Center North, room 127.
David Taylor, professor of biology, head of the biology department and the main Field Biology instructor, said the event will enable supporters of overseas travel to celebrate the Field Biology program’s achievement with the current instructors and students. Attendees will be able to meet people who participated in past Field Biology trips and learn about experiences they had on past trips.
The event will feature a silent auction that will include international items and items that Field Biology students have collected from the local community.
“I made sure we had international items that represent all six areas we’ve been,” Taylor said. “But I already know that we’ve had donations of gift certificates and food gift certificates. So there’ll be a wide range.”
Taylor said part of the proceeds from the silent auction will support students going on this year’s Field Biology trip to Australia and two South Pacific islands: New Caledonia and Vanuatu. The rest of the proceeds will support future Field Biology students.
The event will feature three contests, and one of those contests will be for everyone who attends. Attendees will view a slideshow containing photos from various countries, and they will attempt to identify the organisms in the photos and the locations the photos were taken.
The other two contests will be for past Field Biology trip participants.
“We are having a contest to see which trip year has the most alumni come,” Taylor said. “We’re also having a contest to see which of the alumni comes who’s been on the most of our trips. We’ve got some that have been on up to six trips.”
Each contest winner will receive a Field Biology anniversary T-shirt.
Additionally, attendees will be able to enjoy refreshments from regions Field Biology program participants have traveled to. Taylor said several appetizers from North America, the Caribbean, South America, Asia, the Mediterranean, Oceania and Africa will be available.
Taylor said artifacts collected from past Field Biology trips, as well as a slideshow featuring photos from past trips, will be displayed during the event.
The current Field Biology students chose to help organize and hold the event.
Kathleen Sideli, associate vice president for overseas study at Indiana University, said the IU Southeast Field Biology program is unique, since it was one of IU’s first science-specific short-term programs abroad and it’s a demanding laboratory program, where the lab work is completed abroad.
Sideli said the fact that the IU Southeast Field Biology program has enabled participants to study abroad in different locations for 20 years is an accomplishment.
“It is remarkable since the instructors had to plan the logistics for all 20 locations, changing sites every year, in ways that provided a quality educational experience as well as a safe learning environment for the students,” she said.
Taylor said he enjoys being a part of the Field Biology program because he enjoys sharing the excitement of traveling with participants.
“It is just amazing to watch people’s enjoyment that way,” he said. “The reason why we continue to do this is to share that excitement.”
Biology seniors Britney Pinnick and Lori Hayden went on the Field Biology trip to the Amazon in the spring 2015 semester, and they will go on the trip to Australia, New Caledonia and Vanuatu this semester.
Pinnick said the Field Biology program provides ways to experience education hands on, but it is expensive.
Hayden said she is glad that people will be able to support the program by attending the 20 Countries in 20 Years event.
“A lot of people can’t come on these trips because they can’t afford it, and so it’s sad to miss out on once-in-a-lifetime opportunities because of monetary constraints,” she said.
Tickets for 20 Countries in 20 Years will cost $24 for students, as well as alumni who graduated between 2011 and 2016. Other attendees will pay $29 for tickets.
About the Field Biology program
Thirty-eight years ago, Claude Baker created the Field Biology course, which began with trips to Florida. The study-abroad component began in 1996, when the students traveled to Belize and Guatemala.
Since that trip, students enrolled in the course have conducted field work in Africa, the Caribbean, Central America, the Middle East, North America, South America and the South Pacific. Students in the course this semester will study in Australia and two South Pacific islands – New Caledonia and Vanuatu – this semester from Monday, April 25 to Sunday, May 8. The Field Biology course allows students in any major to gain hands-on research experience before they graduate.