Do field programs in the Amazon have a positive effect on student choices later in life?

D.C. Randle, Citizen Science & Education, ACTSPeru

As an educator with 31 years’ experience, I believe that getting students involved with science programs that offer real life opportunities to learn how to do scientific research from actual field researchers does have a lasting effect and does have a lifelong impact!

According to a study at the University of Minnesota – Duluth, these field experiences can have a positive effect on students and science career choices later on in life.  In the article, Prairie Science Class: A Model for Re-Visioning Environmental Education within the National Wildlife Refuge System, (Human Dimension of Wildlife, 2006) the authors offer evidence which supports these types of programs.  The researchers’ findings are consistent with others who have looked at experiential programs compared to traditional settings.

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Student Field Researchers

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Cedar Creek Ecosystem Reserve, Minnesota

ACTSPeru Canopy Walkway

Field Research, ACTSPeru Canopy Walkway

My background is in ecology and education with high school students in Minnesota.  My experience over the years leads me to support these findings by the researchers.  Getting students involved in field study programs in your local area, such as the Cedar Creek Ecosystem Reserve pictured here,  as well as distance programs, such as my field programs in the Amazon, have a lasting effect on the students and it helps them to make college and career choices that are directly related to those experiences.  I find that there is no substitute for experiential learning.  I have taken many students from across the United States to the Amazon to learn firsthand from scientists who are working in the field of tropical ecology, biology, and culture and world language.  The opportunity to interact firsthand with these researchers and educators to gain firsthand knowledge in the field is a game changer!


Student Citizen Scientists in the Amazon

What I have found is that these experiences have led many of my students to choose pathways in their college course of study or careers choices which focus on science or another science related field. In addition, these  students actually mentor others, share stories of their experiences, and continue these types of learning experiences throughout their adult lives.

Education is most effective when students are actively engaged in real world science in real world situations and not passively engaged with the process of reading about it.

So, if you are looking for reasons to get your students out of the classroom on field trips to your local research centers or environmental outdoor leaning labs, or even to bring students of all ages to the Amazon to participate in a research expedition, I would love to talk with you!

Leave me a comment below or shoot me an email at

D.C. Randle, Citizen Science & Education, ACTSPeru

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