Golden Opportunity: VU Biology Club takes phenomenal trip to California

Golden Opportunity: VU Biology Club takes phenomenal trip to California

VU students and VU professors standing in front of waterfall during Biology Club's trip to California.

July 27, 2023

VINCENNES, Ind. - From ancient redwood forests to spectacular coastlines to the largest variety of plants and animals of any state in the U.S., California has it all when it comes to nature.

The Vincennes University Biology Club has used the summer break to travel to the Golden State, where they immersed themselves in learning about and exploring awe-inspiring ecosystems and habitats. Led by Biology Department Chair and Professor Andrew Corless, the trip was jam-packed with remarkable opportunities.

“They get college credit for a Biology field course, learn a lot, get to experience new places, and they have an amazing time,” said Corless, who serves as the club’s faculty advisor.

Club members and VU faculty, including Chemistry Professor Dr. Ivana Peralta, spent nine days visiting picturesque locales and enjoying fun experiences together.

2 female VU students kayaking.They enjoyed Yosemite National Park's stunning mountains, waterfalls, plants, and animals. They watched the sun rise over Artist Point and saw the park's famous giant sequoias. Captivating sea birds, seals, cypress trees, sea otters, and more made their 17-mile drive along the Monterey Peninsula perfect for Instagram shots and Tik Tok videos. 

“The trip was a great experience for me since I have never been out west,” Chemical Sciences major Lauryn Unversaw said. “I got to be in so many different environments. I would say my favorites were getting to see sea otters and harbor seals in Pebble Beach and sea kayaking. I got to experience more of the marine life, which I haven't been exposed to as much, which helped me see more career pathways that I could be involved with in my major.”

Each day brought new experiences.

At the University of California Santa Cruz Seymour Marine Discovery Center, the traveling party toured a private lagoon, heard about its research, learned about whales, and saw dolphins. At Natural Bridges State Beach, they explored the tidepools and observed a variety of splendid creatures. There were many seals and sea otters to see while kayaking in the Monterey Bay Elkhorn Slough. They also experienced the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. While there, they checked out its biology exhibits, collections, rainforest dome, aquarium, and planetarium shows. Other exciting San Fran stops included the Golden Gate Bridge, Lombard Street, Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39, Chinatown, and Ghiradelli Square.

“VU students get to go on these trips for a fraction of the cost of going by themselves,” Corless said. “They do fundraisers, get grants from Student Activities, and an academic grant from the College of Science, Engineering, and Mathematics to help pay for the trip.”

It was a memorable journey that Chemical Sciences major Sarah Richardson will never forget from her college days at VU.  

“California opened up my eyes to how different the rest of the world is compared to the small town I grew up in Indiana,” Richardson said. “I am very grateful I got to be a part of this experience, and I know it will help me become a better pharmacist in the future. Biology Club really helped me expand my communication and professional skills because I had to step out of my comfort zone and make new connections.”

2 female VU students posing for a selfie with trees and mountains behind them.VU students of all majors have many opportunities to travel with professors and other students.

The Biology Club is open to all majors and has been making annual exploration trips since 1993, except for 2020 and 2021. Club members have traveled to the Peruvian Amazon in South America, U.S. Virgin Islands, Yellowstone National Park, Olympic National Forest in Washington, the Great Smoky Mountains, and other cool places.

Explore VU’s College of Science, Engineering, and Mathematics and Biology degrees. Learn more about the Biology Club and other student clubs and organizations.

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