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By Nick Hagen

Pictured: Cordova Welcome Sign. Image Credit to Nick Hagen

Students from FRCC’s Natural Resource Department were in Cordova, Alaska over the summer as part of NRE 200: Alaska Ecology. The week-long intensive was hosted by Orca Adventure Lodge and designed by lodge owner Steve Ranney with FRCC staff.

While in Alaska, students participated in a range of activities including bird counts, fish identification, glacier studies and whale watching.

“It was really the trip of a lifetime,” said Maggie McBride, an FRCC graduate who attended the course. “We did more in one week than most people do all summer.”

Alaska Ecology has been around since 2010. Previously offered every other year, the course was sidelined during COVID. The trip this summer was the first since 2018.

Pictured: The 2022 Class of Alaska Ecology. Photo Courtesy of Nick Hagen

Because space is limited, placement is selective. Short answer essay questions along with an application is required before being accepted. 15 students were in attendance this year.

And although the trip is all-inclusive – it is not free.

Over $3,000 per student was paid for the experience. This sum also does not include tuition, making it something of a burden on the conscience of the department.

“Due to the cost, the trip is not an equal opportunity and it’s something we’ve been trying to work out for a long time,” said Jennifer Lee, Dept. Head of Natural Resources at FRCC Larimer.

“It’s a great deal for what you get,” added FRCC Instructor Heather Dannahower. “But [the cost] can be limiting.”

To help offset the cost, both Lee and Dannahower helped orchestrate fundraising opportunities for students during the Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 semester. Fundraising included a firewood sale and a Christmas tree disposal route.

“A big thanks goes out to Morgan Timber Products,” said Dannahower. “They were instrumental in both our firewood sale and our tree collection.”

The next NRE 200 offering is tentatively scheduled for Summer 2024. For more information, please contact Jennifer Lee or Heather Dannahower at FRCC Larimer campus.

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