This year the club took fifteen students and six chaperones to the Bahamas over spring break. Students attending this year’s trip were Jason Boyer II, Emily Bolhuis, Jacob Bolhuis, Johnathon Doman, Emily Chilla, Alexis Zajda, Alexis TenBusschen, Collin Goldsberry, Cari Wiessner, Courtney Pasek, Jacob Millward, Mollee Nason, Cam Davis, Anne Huston, and Casey Steinman. Chaperones accompanying these students were teacher Bob Lisowski, and parents Linda Huston, Becky Wiessner, Mark Pasek, Bob Bolhuis, and Jason Boyer.
In preparation of their educational trip, students practiced snorkeling, and attended classes about both the ecosystem and the culture that they would experience. “It is vital that the students have an understanding of the people’s culture and the ecosystem they will experience to assure a safe and meaningful trip,” said Bob Lisowski, Gobles teacher and sponsor of the biology club.
During the trip, students visited the local high school, explored several reefs and mangroves through both day and nighttime snorkeling adventures, swam to and snorkeled the “Wall,” visited the Columbus Monument, and an island with threatened marine iguanas, explored a bat cave, visited the only town on the island, hiked through the dense forest, and ate at a local restaurant. Students also attended class sessions during the evening to reflect on their learning experiences, took part in lectures about the San Salvador history and echinoderms, and attended a church service as well.
San Salvador Island is one of 700 islands sprinkled throughout the beautiful waters of the Atlantic Ocean, and is surrounded by a wealth of spectacular reefs. The island is not known for its tourism, but is unique in its history, ecology, inland lakes, and potential for future development.
The island was discovered in 1492 where Christopher Columbus made his first landfall in the New World. Today, the 1000 inhabitants of this small island rely on subsistence farming, local fishing, and the Gerace Research Centre.
Gobles was one of only two high schools in the nation that was able to experience this unique island. During their trip, students stayed at the Gerace Research Centre, an organization that has provided tools and facilities for teaching various field courses.
The intent of the Gerace Research Centre is to inquire into the meaning of environmental relationships; to develop an understanding of another culture; to instruct in research methods and techniques; and to conduct initial surveys and advanced field studies of the island.
“This trip will open the eyes of all students with regards to environmental concerns. Furthermore, it will give the students a much greater appreciation for what they have at home. My hope is that this opportunity will guide the students and give them some direction as they prepare for their future, experiences that are far more than just learning about the people, flora and fauna. I know students will discover new things about themselves, and these discoveries will help them as they go beyond graduation,” said Lisowski.