The first-ever Rend Lake College class in Jamaica, "Tropical Marine Biology," is history.
Like to know how well received it was? "Let the community know we definitely will be doing it again next year," proclaimed co-leader Steve Holman.
"People better not wait too long to sign up or it will be too late. A limited number of spots will go fast."
Led by Dr. Sue Tomlin and Holman, both full-time RLC instructors, students got hands-on marine biology experience in an exotic tropical setting, visiting mangrove swamps, swimming in bat-filled caves and seeing octopi in their natural habitat.
The two-week educational journey was in St. Ann’s Bay near Ocho Rios, at a research resort for college students and professors, owned and operated by the staff at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY.
Lest you think the trip was all fun and games, the class of 13 did have to do field, lab and book work. Figuring into the final grade are lab exams, lab practicals, field notebooks, a final exam and a research paper.
One week of lab preparation is spent on-campus, followed by two weeks enjoying the scenic Caribbean island.
"In this unique course, you not only will hear about the wondrous world of tropical marine biology, but you will see the lectures come to life 10 minutes after hearing them," Holman explained.
"Field Biology Tropical" is a course which introduces learners to the field of marine sciences. Included are four main systems: coral reefs, seagrass beds, mangrove habitats and rock shores. The course provides discussion on the ecology of those systems, including classification of organisms, behavioral characteristics of specific species, habitat loss, conservation, management and biodiversity.
This summer was the first time it had been offered by Rend Lake College, thanks in large part to the collaborative efforts of Holman and Tomlin.
"There is absolutely no better way to learn about marine biology than hands-on among the coral reefs and tropical fish of the Caribbean,” concluded Tomlin, who is a Professor of Anthropology and Sociology for the community college and has been involved in numerous intercultural trips for both students and faculty.
RLC Biology Instructor Holman likened the course to a "biological boot camp," adding, "It’s definitely not a vacation, but it is a lot of fun and adventure."
Holman will be joined next summer by Rend Lake College Chemistry Professor John Fisher. The trip is scheduled May 20-30 and costs approximately $1,800. A limited number of partial scholarships are available through the RLC Foundation.