Farewell Field Station & More

*Sometimes I use affiliate links in my content. This won’t cost you anything and will not harm our mother earth. I just might get some funding to go toward filling my logbook and sharing more with you.

Happy almost New Year!!!

2018 has certainly been a year of ambition, learning, success, and new experiences. From earning the NOAA Ernest F. Hollings Scholarship to my DOE summer internship at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), I have had career advancing opportunities and personal development experiences. I am beyond blessed to have earned many scholarships this year that are assisting with my tuition and study abroad costs.

I have worked hard, battling the obstacles of my Crohn’s Disease, to pursue my passions. I am proud to say I have made Juniata’s Dean’s list both semesters in 2018. I look forward to continuing this work next semester in a warmer climate….see you soon Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands!

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Finals

After returning from Thanksgiving Break, the field station had our last few classes. Final exams were just around the corner. We had 2 exams, our nature photography portfolios, a GIS project, a research paper from our semester long projects, and an group presentation of our research results. Needless to say, our plates were full and we were feeling the stress.

Before the stress really hit, many of us participated in one of Juniata’s many traditions on campus by attending the Madrigal Dinner and Dance on December 1st! During dinner, our faculty and professors are our servers and we end the evening by singing holiday carols. You really have to be there to understand the full experience, it is quite unique. Afterwards, there is a dance in the gym. It is a fun night to dress up with friends.

Also, I visited the Terrace Mountain Alpacas farm to pet some alpacas.

As a stress buster, our awesome Resident Director planned a white elephant gift exchange and we made cookies!

I am going to miss the field station a lot, especially the people I had the opportunity to meet and get to know. People often ask me if I like living at the field station, especially since it is so far from campus. I tell them, “Yes! I love it because of the location, but mostly because of the people”. Being on Raystown Lake in the middle of the woods was beautiful and relaxing.

However, I think the people made the biggest difference. I learned so much about myself and who I want to be personally and professionally. I was able to get to know people who I never would have on campus. I made new friends, created memories with genuine and beautiful people, and had a lot of fun being me. I cannot thank everyone enough for all their support, acceptance, and knowledge they have shared.

So long Raystown Field Station!

Raystown Lake

If any current or prospective Juniata students are interested in studying at the field station, I highly suggest it. It is a great immersion opportunity, like study abroad, but less culture changes and still near campus (I also suggest you study abroad but you will be hearing about that for the next few months).

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American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting

Day One

The day after I had my final presentation and moved out of the Raystown Lake Station, I traveled to Washington, D.C. for the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting. I used Metro from the Shady Grove station to get downtown on both days I attended the conference. When I first entered the convention center, I was overwhelmed. There were people everywhere and it was a huge facility. I quickly located the registration desk, which was also massive.

After getting my official badge, I connected with my mentor from Oak Ridge National Lab. It was nice to see a familiar face in a sea of strangers in heels and blazers. I met many of her colleagues and connections, which was very exciting. Together, we went to the oral presentation titled, “Centennial: Transformational Contributions over the Past 100 Years in the Biogeosciences I”. It was an interesting series of presentations because it encompassed my knowledge from my internship over the summer and new aquatic concepts from the classes I had just completed.

After I grabbed lunch, I explored the exhibit booths and talked to a few graduate school programs. It was a great experience to practice asking questions and to start thinking about what is important for me about graduate school.

Before I knew it, it was time to present my poster. I was in the session titled, “Plant-Soil Interactions Under Global Warming: Learning Mechanisms from Multiyear Field Experiments and Natural Gradients”. I had practiced talking about my research at the end of summer at the ORNL intern’s poster session, but this was my first time presenting at a larger conference and completely alone. I was pretty nervous.

However, time flew by during the presentation time frame. I stayed at my poster for a majority of the time during the 1:40pm to 6:00pm time frame. I continuously had researchers approach me to discuss my project. I was able to reconnect with and discuss future interests with many scientists that I knew from working at ORNL. Also, I had a Juniata alum, Liz Cushman, come to my poster to network with me. I am excited to have more professionals in my circle of connections.

I ended the evening in DC with a delicious dinner at Tiger Fork with a former coworker from my internship at Audubon Naturalist Society.

My inspirational fortune at dinner
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Day Two

I arrived to the conference later on the second day due to a doctor’s appointment, but I was just in time for the oral presentation, “Building Stronger Communities in Academia for Effective Education and Outreach II”. I was particularly interested in this series because one of my future mentors for my Hollings internship with NOAA this summer was presenting. It was a great way to learn more about the goals of their projects and gain inspiration for my future work. I also learned a lot about programs that encourage scientists to be educators of their own work.

After the presentation, I went to view the ocean sciences, hydrology, and biogeosciences posters being presented that day. I was able to talk to graduate students about their work and their academic journey. It was great to gain insight on different paths to take and opportunities available. I ended the day by joining my mentor from ORNL in an oral presentation session and hopping around to a few others. My experience at AGU was eye opening and inspiring. I made many connections, and had meaningful conversations about my career and my interests.

I would like to thank the Environmental Science and Studies Department at Juniata for funding my conference experience through the Environmental Fellowship. I look forward to more experiences like these!

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NOAA Site Visit

A few days after the conference in DC, I traveled to Williamsburg, VA for my official site visit for my internship this summer. I stayed at a hotel in Williamsburg and my mentors provided transportation to the site in Gloucester Point. As previously mentioned, I will be interning with the stewardship and education coordinators at the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Virginia on the campus of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. My focus will be assisting with monitoring in different sites on the York River and translating these projects into educational pieces, such as a story map and a lesson plan.

During my visit, I toured the campus, met other staff members during their holiday party, and discussed details of what my project specifically will be.

I was also lucky to be able to visit one of the reserve monitoring sites. I went to Taskinas Creek reserve, which is part of York River State Park. I got to visit the marsh and see the established weather station. They have meteorological, biological, and water quality monitoring programs established there.

It was beautiful, even for being the middle of December. I have already learned a lot about coastal environments and marshes. I am looking forward to expanding my knowledge more this summer about these ecosystems.

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit and exploring Williamsburg. I am very excited to spend the summer there!  

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Study Abroad

As many of you know, I am study abroad next semester in the Galapagos Islands. I will first stay in Quito for the first weeks before going to the islands. I leave for my semester on January 5th and I am currently preparing for the transition. I want to give my study abroad it’s own section on my site, so I will be creating another post later with more details about what is upcoming.

However, I did want to share some excitement with you. I have received the
Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to help pay for my semester abroad! I am grateful for this financial assistance especially since there are thousands of dollars of extra fees associated with my program due to transportation, field trips, and entrance fees. To read more about this opportunity, see Juniata’s article.

Also, Juniata awarded me with one of The Thomas R. Kepple, Jr. International Opportunities Endowment awards to help with the cost of this trip. I am very lucky to have this support!

As part of the Gilman scholarship, I am required to complete a Follow-On Service Project to promote study abroad experiences and the Gilman program. I will be using my blog as my promotion platform and will be connecting with specific groups. My goal is to have students (high school and college) follow my blog while I am abroad and then I will talk to them in person when I come back about the experience.

See you next year!

My Real World

*Sometimes I use affiliate links in my content. This won’t cost you anything and will not harm our mother earth. I just might get some funding to go toward filling my logbook and sharing more with you.


The lake and the mountains have become my landscape, my real world.

Georges Simenon

Hello? Hi, its me! Remember me?

Wow, oh wow! It has been awhile. I have finally found time to crawl out from under my pile of work, stress, land commitments to write (for fun this time…but more about that later).

Midterms

As the semester progressed, midterms became closer and the stress was climbing. At the field station, since we have each class all day once a week, midterms were slightly spread out. This was so we did not have to cram and stress for multiple exams at once. Fall Break gave us a little break during that time from October 11th-14th. We all survived and made it through together. One nice thing about living with people who are taking the same classes as you are is that you can study together. We took advantage of that and helped each other understand the content. We definitely feel each other’s struggles!

Class at Balance Rock in Trough Creek State Park
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The End of Boating Season

As the weather got colder, our opportunities to go out on the boat for class were growing slim. Our limnology professor took advantage of Raystown Lake for the last time with our class. We replicated our survey from the beginning of the semester to compare data from different seasons. This was a very cold morning and unfortunately one of our boats broke down. However, it was nice to have one last boat ride this semester.

A few of us also decided to kayak for the last time. It was just barely warm enough and it was super windy. It was a lot easier to paddle in when we got to the cove out of the wind. If you ever want to experience ocean kayaking, just put in at the field station on a windy day!

Research, Research, and More Research

My research project for the semester is completed and I just finished writing the first draft of my paper for it. It has been a lot of work and A LOT of writing this past week! We spent our snow day last week writing our papers all day long by the warm fireplace in Shuster Hall. As a refresher, my group studied the effects of Acid or Abandoned Mine Drainage (AMD) restoration in Miller Run. This stream is located in a previously mined region in Central PA. The local watershed association has completed many restoration projects and our goal was to monitor the streams progress in recovery. We sampled various water quality parameters, kick netted for benthic macroinvertebrates, and electrofished for brook trout in the stream. We only spent 3 days in the field, but many more days in the lab identifying macroinvertebrates. To be honest, I have never identified anything to the genus level, so this was very difficult. However, I learned fast (thanks to help from classmates and professors) and feel like I have learned a lot from this experience! I will be receiving revisions on my paper from my professor in the upcoming weeks and will complete the paper. 

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Also, I revisited my project from the Spring semester, which was tracking the movement of brown trout in the Little Juniata River. I had to opportunity to join other students on the project to present our research at a poster session as part of the 2018 Susquehanna River Symposium at Bucknell University. It was intriguing to see the other research occurring within the watershed and to answer questions about my own work. We also heard from Christopher E. Williams, who is the Senior Vice President for Conservation for American Rivers. The company’s website states their mission is “to protect wild rivers, restore damaged rivers and conserve clean water for people and nature”. Williams discussed his career path, which included law school. He also discussed how our world is entering a “water insecure future” and what that means for our resources. This also includes having too much water; for example, the flooding in Ellicott City. Rivers are important for channeling water and also for providing it. This does not even account for the life in the water and the surrounding areas that rely on the resource. Overall, it was an interesting keynote address and it definitely had me thinking about the big picture of all of my freshwater research. 

Lastly, I am presenting my research from last summer at ORNL in a poster session on December 13th in Washington D.C. at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting 2018. The conference is being held at Walter E. Washington Convention Center. If you are planning on attending or know a colleague attending, let me know! I would love to connect with more scientists. I will be attending the conference late due to my finals in the beginning of the week, but I will be there the 13th and the 14th.

Here are the details:

Abstract Title: Quantifying Fine-root Branching Response to Experimental Ecosystem Warming Utilizing Image Analysis Software 
Presentation Type: Poster 
Session Date and Time: Thursday, 13 December 2018; 13:40 – 18:00 
Session Number and Title: B43M: Plant–Soil Interactions Under Global Warming: Learning Mechanisms from Multiyear Field Experiments and Natural Gradients Posters 
Location: Convention Center; Hall A-C (Poster Hall)

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Study Abroad

As this semester comes to an end, my plans for study abroad have begun. I was officially accepted to the GAIAS program through Universidad San Francisco de Quito a few weeks ago. I am currently in the midst of attaining my VISA, scheduling flights and classes, and figuring out my medications while abroad. There is a lot to do before I go, but I am really excited!!! I cannot believe it is almost a month away.

NOAA Internship

In my last post, I mentioned that on October 1st the database for Hollings scholars to begin viewing internships would open. I spent a few days casually viewing the projects listed and gawking at the amazing locations they were in. However, I did not see a project that really stuck out to me, but I decided to pick a few that I wanted to learn more about and could see myself participating in. I emailed one potential mentor about his project and scheduled a phone interview. After sending that email and not feeling as excited as I felt I should, I decided to look more into the projects that included some outreach or education. In 2017, I had an environmental education internship and loved it, but I knew that was not all I wanted to do. In 2018, I had a research internship and also loved the experience, but it still did not fulfill everything I wanted. I always thought it would be great to have a job where I could do research and outreach. I also really love studying the Chesapeake Bay, but I was trying to go to another ecosystem. 

Well, you know what? Like my dad says, the doors of opportunity do not just open for me. Instead, they run up and throw themselves down in front of me. There was this one project that I saw when I first looked and it had the word education in it. I did not even click on the description because I kept telling myself, “This is NOAA! You should do research!”. You can guess what happened next. The words “Chesapeake Bay” finally called my name enough and curiosity caused me to click on the project. I only read the first few sentences before I copied the whole internship information page and emailed it to my mom with the subject “AMAZING INTERNSHIP OPPORTUNITY”. 

I emailed, scheduled a Skype interview, had the interview, and got the position. It was an amazing interview and I never felt more qualified or excited about something in my career. They emailed me less than an hour after our interview to offer me the position. It really feels meant to be! I will be doing a site visit on December 16th-18th to meet my mentors, tour the facility, and the area. 

My project is “Translating Chesapeake Bay Research and Stewardship Projects into Useful, Hands-on Education Products” at the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Virginia on the campus of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS). This project is exciting for me because I will get to do both of the things I love: research and outreach. I will be living in Williamsburg, VA this summer and will also be looking for apartments for the summer soon. Let me know if you have any connections to the area or any tips for my upcoming summer.

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Field Station Fun

As always, I try to share some of what I do when I am not in class or doing research. At the station, we have had a lot of fun and bonding experiences lately. In early October, we dug out this years crop from the potato patch! We have been eating lots of yummy potatoes as a result of this adventure. 

To celebrate Halloween, we carved pumpkins as a group, toasted pumpkin seeds, and decorated our fireplace for the season.

Each semester, the station hosts an Etiquette Dinner to teach us which fork to use and how not to embarrass ourselves in that kind of setting. Our group also decided we wanted to do a “murder mystery” game. Everyone dressed up in character assigned ahead of time and we enjoyed our meal, while trying to discover who the “murderer” was. We definitely had a lot of fun!

While trying to finish up our papers, we had a snow day. Due to the limited time in class, we still received work over email, but it was still a snow day! I spent the majority of the day writing, but in the evening when the snow ended, some of us decided it was the right time to go sledding in the drive way. 

I never thought I was going to experience snow at the field station, but I am really glad I did. It was so beautiful!

Also…we are in the woods so sometimes trees fall…in the middle of the road.

Call me Lumberjack Letourneau!

Our class spent one day collecting and identifying macroinvertebrates to assess the health of another AMD stream in PA for community service. Shout out to Marissa for the awesome picture!

Lastly, my mom came and visited one weekend. I took her to Trough Creek State Park and Rainbow Falls. We took pictures and she even got some of me!

See you after finals!!! 🙂

Raystown, Oneida & Ontario

*Sometimes I use affiliate links in my content. This won’t cost you anything and will not harm our mother earth. I just might get some funding to go toward filling my logbook and sharing more with you.

Happy Fall!

The past month has been far from boring. So let’s jump right into it!

From September 10th -14th, the students at the field station spent a week at the Cornell University Biological Field Station on Oneida Lake in the Finger Lake Region of New York. We woke up early on Monday and hopped into the vans for our long road trip. When we arrived, I took advantage of the time of day and the location to take some pictures for Nature Photography.

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The Cornell field station looked like old farm buildings in a field next to a lake, but the interiors were renovated and the labs had all the necessary equipment. They have a lot of land that extends all the way to the lake where they have their own boats and dock area.

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Our first day of programming started at the Cornell field station with two presentations from the researchers from Cornell. They presented information about the biology and history of Oneida Lake and shared their research projects with us. We met the lab assistants and learned about the partnerships the lab has for their research.

We spent our afternoon studying the fish in Oneida by seining  A majority of our group has taken Itchyology and they were able to teach me how to identify some fish. We also found a Mudpuppy!

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The next day, we traveled to the USGS Lake Ontario Field Station. The lake is absolutely beautiful! We learned about the research that they do there, the lake’s history, and their role in the Great Lakes research. They showed us their lab and equipment. Their boat was not there at the time because it was being maintained, so sadly they could not take us out on the lake. However, they were very informative and gave us great career advice.

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Lake Ontario

They also suggested that we go to the Salmon River Hatchery up the road.

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When we got there, the guide gave us some background information and then one of the fish culturists gave us a tour. He explained how their operation works with the different species such as chinook salmon, coho salmon, and steelhead. We saw where they process the fish for eggs, where they raise them, and the tanks that they hold them in to grow. It was very cool to see the operation that is so imperative to the fisheries and recreation in New York.

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On our 4th day, we traveled to find a pine barrens environment and did some macroinvertebrate sampling in the stream we found at the end of the path. We went back to Oneida Lake that afternoon where we went fishing and swimming in the lake. I did not catch anything, but it was a beautiful day to enjoy the water. That evening we had a shrimp and crawdad boil!!!

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We also enjoyed a campfire by the lake which was a great way to end our time at the Cornell field station.

On the way home, we stopped at the renowned Cornell Lab of Ornithology. We toured their collections of skins, the lab, and ichthyology specimens as part of the Cornell University Museum of Vertebrates. It was amazing to see this and how they process their specimens. Preserving and collecting is a part of science I have not had much exposure to and I was really intrigued.

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Luckily, we did not miss Mountain Day at Juniata. It ended up being the Thursday after we got back. Since Mountain Day is held at Seven Points Marina on Raystown Lake, we took our field station’s boat to get there. Talk about arriving in style!!! To recap from my last post, Mountain Day is a Juniata tradition where classes are cancelled by surprise on a random day and students and staff get to enjoy outdoor activities at the lake.

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The past two weeks, classes have been in full swing. In Limnology, we have been going out and practicing surveying nearby streams. We spent our whole day in a tributary stream in Trough Creek State Park. I decided to skip on wearing waders that day because they always end up getting water in them for me. So I wet-wadded in the stream while doing a pebble count, which involves picking up rocks at random points along a distance of the stream and classifying them by size. I ended up swimming…

The following Limnology class, we had our midterm exam.  I cannot believe we are already halfway through the semester.  I feel like I just moved into the field station yesterday.  However, this place has become my home and I definitely never want to leave.

For Aquatic Ecology, we went out on the boat on Raystown Lake and performed zooplankton sampling in areas with differing nutrient richness. We practiced identifying them in the lab and I thought it was so cool! They have interesting structures and functions. We preserved our samples and will do more identification, comparing the sampling locations.

Nature Photography is going well and I am enjoying taking my pictures. I notice the details of my environment much more now. Here are some of my favorite pictures that I have taken so far:

My research project has been developed and we visited the site this month. In the next few weeks, we will be doing our field and lab work to get our data for analysis. We will be studying the effects of Acid Mine Drainage remediation on macroinvertebrate communities in Miller Run. Miller Run has undergone a variety of remediation projects and the aquatic communities were surveyed in 2013 by Juniata students. The downstream area is able to support aquatic life, but there was an overall lack of abundance. Our team is going to see if there has been improvement in the past five years.

This past week, the students at the field station assisted the US Army Corps of Engineers with an aquatic vegetation survey of Raystown Lake. We did rake tosses to pull up vegetation and used sonar to map along the shoreline. We were specifically tracking the hydrilla and the milfoil issues in the lake. This took two days, which meant spending two whole days on a boat. Needless to say, I could still feel the rocking of the wake when I was eating dinner at the end of the night. It was fun to learn how to identify aquatic vegetation and meet Army Corps employees from New York and Florida.

The last thing I want to mention is about my future! On October 1st, the database of NOAA internships for Hollings Scholars opened up. I now have access to many different projects from all over the country. I am still figuring out where I want to go and what kind of project I want to work on. I will keep you all posted on what happens. Before I go abroad in January, I have to go on a site visit to confirm my internship and make sure it is the right fit.

Stay tuned!! Until next time…

“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads” -Henry David Thoreau

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Home Away From Home

*Sometimes I use affiliate links in my content. This won’t cost you anything and will not harm our mother earth. I just might get some funding to go toward filling my logbook and sharing more with you.

Waving hello from the lake!

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Field Station Harbor

On August 17th, I traveled to Juniata and spent five days with my teammates preparing to cheer for the football season. One of my favorite things about cheerleading is that it offers an escape from the stress of the day plus I get to see many of my friends. My coach is very supportive and always reminds us that our academics come first. We are at college to be students before we are athletes. During preseason, we had the opportunity to share our program with the local news. Check out our broadcast! There are links to our short segments below the text. I also was put on the spot for an interview. Our team has pride in being student athletes!

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Our team with Jordan Tracy of WTAJ

On August 22nd, I successfully moved into the Raystown Field Station. We had a presentation after moving in on field safety and then went down to the fire pit by the lake for s’mores and residential life information.

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The schedule at the field station includes having one class all day each day. Our first day was an introduction to the station, tours, and logistics.

My class schedule is:

Mondays – GIS

Tuesdays – Sense of Place Seminar and Nature Photography

Wednesdays – Research

Thursdays – Aquatic Ecology

Fridays – Limnology

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Our first class was Limnology on Friday. We have only had a few classes, but so far we have designed a leaf decomposition study as a class to evaluate nearby ponds and Raystown Lake. Our labs the past two weeks have comprised of going out on the lake on the boat and measuring the lake’s physical and chemical properties.

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Using a probe to measure dissolved oxygen at different depths of Raystown Lake

For GIS, we have been exploring the program and practicing creating maps or finding information. I am very excited to learn how to use GIS more and how it can help with my research.

Sense of Place seminar began with a boat tour of Raystown Lake, which included the basic science and history facts of the area. Who knew you could have a lecture on a boat? We also discussed our research projects for the semester. I am not sure what I am exactly studying yet, but I will be researching an acid mine drainage site.

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Boat tour of Raystown!

The first two weeks, we did not have anything on Wednesdays because we do not have our research projects established yet. My professor said, “Either make it a very productive day or a really good day”. I did a combination of both; I did some homework in the morning and spent the afternoon kayaking on the lake with some classmates.

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Nature photography is a lot of terminology and learning the basic concepts of how to take a good picture. It is particularly difficult to take pictures of wildlife because of their movements so we have learned a lot of specialized techniques so far. Our first project was a picture of a wildflower. Here are my first attempts! I am looking forward to improving my skills.

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Aquatic Ecology has been an introduction to ecology and learning the applications of these concepts in aquatic ecosystems. This course is unique because it is taught by Dr. Lane Loya from Saint Francis University.

One afternoon, we had a mini Lake Symposium to listen to researchers discuss the previous studies on Raystown Lake and the potential issues for the future. The presenters included a park ranger from the US Army Corps of Engineers, and from Juniata, Dr. Sharon Yohn and Dr. Chuck Yohn. It is interesting to learn about an ecosystem in which you live and about the different issues that have to be monitored.

I also enjoyed kayaking and going on a firework cruise on the lake with my mom on Labor Day weekend.

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From September 10th to 14th, our class at the field station is travelling to the Finger Lakes region of New York to study lakes and streams. We are going to be staying at the Cornell Biological Field Station and the USGS Lake Ontario Biological Station.

On the way home, we will stop at Cornell Lab of Ornithology. I will be taking lots of pictures for Nature Photography while there so I will document a lot of the trip! Our Limnology and Aquatic Ecology professors will be joining us too, which will provide an immersive experience to apply everything we have learned and will learn this semester.

I wanted to end this post with some fun from one of Juniata’s traditions, Lobsterfest (Yes, sometimes I actually go back to campus.) It is an opportunity for students to sign up for clubs and enjoy delicious lobster on the quad.

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I am probably going to jinx myself, but another tradition at Juniata is Mountain Day. One day in the fall, classes are canceled and the school provides buses to take everyone to Seven Points Recreation Area on Raystown Lake for a day of outdoor fun including a picnic lunch, kayaking, slip and slide, inflatables, tug-of-war, and more. However, no one knows in advance when it is going be. As the JC website states, “trying to guess the date of Mountain Day is one of the most popular topics of conversation among the students and faculty in the weeks leading up to the event”. It really is. Students and professors will place bets when they think it will be and students will stay up all night if they think it might be the next day.

I really hope Mountain Day is not this upcoming week while we are in NY, but if it is we will get to pick another day in the semester as our own field station “mountain day”. I really want to go this year because we will be able to sail the research boat across the lake to get there.

I have already heard some rumors…so fingers crossed!!

Here’s to more adventures and beautiful sunsets on the lake.

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