Study Abroad

Brock Experience – Yellowstone National Park

My trip to Yellowstone can only be described as life-changing. I had never left the East coast before, so being able to see nature to such an extreme was a surreal experience.

The number one goal I had while traveling was to have an open mind and to really try and connect with the incredible people of all lifestyles we were able to meet. The last thing I wanted to do was stay in my comfort zone and waste an opportunity like this. During pre-departure, we learned about both sides of various civic issues occurring in the West, many of which I had never heard about before. I connected most with the hunting of large game and its effect on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, and it wasn’t until we were in Wyoming, talking with the owners of a hunting outfitter that I was able to see their point of view.

This example demonstrates my biggest takeaway from the trip, that you don’t have to agree with someone to understand and empathize with their point of view. During a time of political turmoil and division, it was refreshing to be around classmates, locals, and professionals that were on polar opposite sides of an issue and were still able to speak respectfully, ask thoughtful questions, and listen.

As a future teacher, this trip also emphasized the importance of real learning experiences. The benefit of walking around a historic area, watching species in their natural habitat, and recording field notes allowed me to connect to our world in a way I never had before. It felt like I was witnessing the true beauty of our Earth for the first time. For my students, even if we can’t go on cross-country trips to amazing places like Yellowstone, I can still take them on nature walks and just have them observe animals in their habitat, instead of just giving them a worksheet. The learning gets taken to another level when you experience the content yourself.

Bison we passed while entering the park! They were my favorite animal to observe.
Me at a lake in Montana, where we sat and studied the nature around us. My field notebook is in my right hand.