Growing up and learning out of a textbook has always been a bit strange to me. I would learn a concept or a fact but never would see this in action outside of the text. It seemed like a foreign idea that applied only to the world of the textbook, not the world I was in.
The amazing thing about living at a field station is that the knowledge we are learning applies directly to the location we are in. It has been particularly powerful to learn about the lobster fishery here. Not only to learn about it, but to actually walk five minutes from the field station and watch the fishers come in, eager to unload their catch to the processing plant, get paid, and prepare for the next day on the water. We have the opportunity to talk to these fishers, to learn their opinions, and to pick their brains on their thoughts about Marine Protected Areas. This is truly something that could never be learned from a textbook, but something that can only be learned through experience.
One of my favorite assignments here has been our taxonomy project. We learned about the diverse phyla that are found here around South Caicos, and then were instructed to go out snorkeling on the water, and take pictures of anything we thought was living. We visited different habitats and observed the different life we could find in different habitats. We then came back to the station and worked on identifying all of the strange and different organisms I never even knew existed. I did not read about a certain organism’s behavior or see a nice picture of it in big book, but I saw it with my own eyes. That is a powerful experience that could really inspire people to care for, appreciate, and maybe even devote their lives to learning about and protecting this amazing world we live in.