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Still time to register for UMFK special summer excursions to Baxter State Park, Newfoundland and Sweden

May 30, 2003


University of Maine at Fort Kent students and interested community members alike still have time to register for three excursions planned for the summer semester. Participants will have the opportunity to visit and study the ecology of a unique region of Maine, northeastern Canada, and Alpine Sweden as the campus offers its largest number of summer excursions in recent memory.

The three environmental expeditions, which are open to the public, are being offered as part of UMFK's summer programming.

The first course, a week-long study of Baxter State Park, will be held June 21 through 26.

Students enrolling in the course will hike several peaks, learn about the distribution and evolution of mountain, lake, and forest plant and animal communities. Study and activities, including swimming, will be conducted throughout the day. The excursion will focus primarily on the vegetation communities of Baxter State Park.

"We will look at the influence that soils, geology, landscape, forest fires, humans, and other factors have had in influencing the plants and to a lesser extent the animals that we find today in and around the park. We will spend some time studying sustainable forestry practices in the scientific forest management area in the northern portion of the park. We will also examine water quality and aquatic life in several water bodies within the park," said Jeff Dubis, assistant professor of forestry, and leader of the Baxter State Park excursion.

Dubis hopes students and community members walk away with a better understanding of the natural landscape of Baxter State Park and the surrounding region. Students will also learn about the influence humans have had on the region.

"This is a good opportunity for anyone who is interested in learning more about Maine's Forests and alpine areas," said Dubis.

In addition to regular credit hour costs, a $250 course fee will be charged to cover travel expenses. Anyone wishing to enroll in this excursion should do so as soon as possible by calling the academic outreach office at 834-7835.

Another special course offering, the North Atlantic expedition to Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada will be held August 18 through 29.

This course will be an exciting and educational visit to Atlantic Canada's western highlands and coastal lowlands.

Professor of biology, Steve Selva, and assistant professor of education, Bruno Hicks, will team teach the course, accompanying the interested students and community members on the eleven-day adventure. Selva and Hicks teach a wide variety of natural history courses at the University of Maine at Fort Kent and have traveled extensively throughout Atlantic Canada.

"Anyone who is interested in the outdoors should enjoy this trip, be they a budding naturalist or a seasoned veteran of the great outdoors. The boreal and subarctic environments that we will be investigating are different from those here in northern Maine, but similar enough to help one gain a better understanding and appreciation of what's going on in their own back yard. Just to experience the interesting social and cultural history of the region is reason enough to participate," said Selva.

Education offerings will include interpretive workshops, tundra expeditions, botany studies, bird watching and identifying, ecological investigations, and visiting archaeological sites.

"In addition to hiking and camping in the boreal forest and subarctic environs of Terra Nova and Gros Morne National parks, students will visit Viking and Basque Whaling sites, go whale watching, have a go at sea kayaking, and probably see some icebergs," said Selva.

"By recording their experiences and observations in a natural history journal, students will develop a better understanding of the interactions that take place in the boreal and subarctic ecosystems found on Newfoundland and Labrador, and have a better appreciation of the social and cultural history of the region.," said Hicks. "Courses like this give students the opportunity to experience first hand the social and natural history interactions that they may have only read about or heard about in the classroom or on television."

In addition to regular credit hour costs, a $1200 course fee will be charged to cover travel expenses. Registration deadline is June 20.

A third excursion to Alpine Sweden will take place between August 8 and August 16.

The field course will introduce students to the alpine natural history, glacial landforms, and reindeer husbandry of the western Jamtland region of Sweden. Daily hikes will be made into the countryside to study alpine ecology and the effects of glaciation on ecosystem development.

Deborah Eustis-Grandy, a visiting professor at UMFK will deliver the course.

"In addition to learning about the cultural and natural history of northwestern Sweden, participants will experience some of the things that make the North special - sauna, long summer days, the beautiful landscapes, special wild foods, glaciers, and hiking in wide open spaces," said Eustis Grandy.

The excursion leader hopes those who participate in the trip come away with a better understanding of alpine ecology, glacial landforms, and the cultural/economic importance of reindeer to peoples of northern Scandinavia. In addition, she hopes participants will make new friends, share new experiences, and have a great time exploring a wonderful place.

"This course is a great opportunity for anyone who loves to travel and is interested in natural history. While we will be hiking every day, the terrain is not overly rugged - people of all ages come to the Swedish mountain stations in summer to get closer to nature. All that is required is that you are in good physical health, have a sense of adventure, be willing to work as part of a group, and have a love of the outdoors," said Eustis Grandy. "These special interest courses allow UMFK to expand its offerings to the wider world. They provide potential recruitment opportunities and can be highlighted as unique programming that is not available at other institutions. It is also an opportunity to bring together people from diverse backgrounds and with diverse experiences to learn from each other, while at the same time learning about new places and things."

In addition to regular credit hour costs, a $1200 course fee will be charged to cover travel expenses. Registration deadline for this course is June 20.

For more information on the UMFK summer environmental excursions or to register, contact Don Eno in the academic outreach office at (207) 834-7835 or toll free at 1-888-TRY-UMFK.