I was signed up to take AGR 12200 because that’s what I was told to do. It’s a basic introductory course to the program that every newcomer has to take. As I would have expected, most of the class was lecture based and focused on introducing us to what we might expect coming into NRES. However, I was much more intrigued with this class when we started going on field trips. For one of the trips we went to a self-sufficient, sustainable farm. We also went to the campus’ power plant and learned all about Purdue’s historical contributions to the NRES field. The most exciting of our field trips was when our bus rolled up to this tree nursery. We weren’t visiting the tree nursery, just hiking through it to get to our real target. Finally we arrived at this creek. There were several pairs of waders lined up along the shore and right then I knew, I was going to be the first one to put on those waders and hop into the creek. Sure enough, a group of us quickly suited up and jumped right in. For the first few minutes we waded in the creek with large nets with which we were to possibly unearth some creek dwellers. After scavenging through the mud, we then headed to the next station to shock fish. Yes, it’s really as fun as it sounds. We sent electrical pulses through the water which temporarily shocked the fish so that we could collect them and take inventory. After the collection, the fish needed to be sorted. I stuck my hand into the unsorted fish bucket, and was greeted with dozens and dozens of little fish swarming my arm. It was a crazy feeling. We were taught how to identify the fish and we spent the rest of the afternoon putting the fish into their respective buckets.
This field trip only lasted a couple of hours but I will remember it for a long time. It perfectly encompassed what it was like to be in the NRES program. Hiking to our destination, getting in the creek, using real, hands-on learning, and most of all just being outside. Anyone can sit in a classroom all day and be taught these things, but the only way to really learn them is to be outside, experiencing it. After that class I knew I had made the right decision in majors. I want to spend every day with those waders on and with NRES, I can.