Project Yellowstone celebrates 8th annual trip
Project Yellowstone, an annual student and community program offered through Mitchell Community College, celebrated the program’s 8th trip in June 2017. Since summer 2009, the Project Yellowstone program has taken high school and college students as well as others from the Statesville, NC community to Yellowstone National Park in the northwest corner of Wyoming.
This year, individuals from the local community–including some past Project Yellowstone participants–contributed $3238.00 to the Project Yellowstone scholarship fund through Mitchell’s Endowment for Excellence. Thanks to these generous contributions, the program was able to offer scholarships to two students, Frida Uribe and Jim Campbell.
This was the first visit to Yellowstone for Uribe and Campbell, and both students called the trip an experience of a lifetime. “A lifelong dream of mine has been to visit Yellowstone National Park, said Uribe. “I am honored to have received this scholarship that allowed one of my dreams to come true.” Campbell echoed her sentiments and noted that the unique vistas and scientific exploration was just part of the benefits of the trip. “The one thing most of all I will always cherish is the friendships I created and all that I learned on the trip especially from Parks Collins and Bill Day who did a fantastic job with great joy and professionalism.”
Project Yellowstone aims to make science relevant; allow students the chance to be scientists; and stimulate conservation through appreciation. Project Yellowstone accomplishes this by exposing students to the wildlife biology, geology, botany, microbiology and ecology of Yellowstone National Park. Participants have completed independent inquiry-based projects, observed large megafauna such as bears, wolves, and moose, and have hiked many trails. Participants have also had opportunities to explore the plant life, the physical formations of the land, and the geothermal areas. Instructors and participants have been responsible for leading specific topic discussions, including the geology of Yellowstone, the reintroduction of the gray wolf and bald eagle, the ecology of cutthroat trout, and the delicate balance of life in high altitude ecosystems and lake ecosystems.
Project Yellowstone was created in 2008 at Statesville High School (SHS) in Statesville, NC. The objective was to create a summer enrichment program where students could learn biological concepts using Yellowstone National Park as the classroom. During the summers of 2009 and 2010, 18 SHS students received full scholarships to travel to Yellowstone. These scholarships were the result of generous donations from the community as well as several grants.
Project Yellowstone expanded in 2011 to include students from Mitchell Community College and adults from the Statesville, NC area in addition to SHS students. The idea was to allow inter-generational learning to take place as college students and other adults served as mentors to the high school students. The ages of the participants during the 2011 trip ranged from 15 to 69. Full scholarships were awarded to 12 more students during both the 2011 and 2012 trips.
In 2014, Project Yellowstone expanded again as it was offered as a continuing education class through Mitchell. Any individual from the area will have the chance to sign up to participate in this program. Scholarships for select high school and college students will still be granted as they are available. More information about Project Yellowstone can be obtained on Mitchell’s Continuing Education–Special Interest courses page, the Project Yellowstone blog or by contacting trip leader Parks Collins at email@example.com. To contribute to the Project Yellowstone scholarship fund, visit the Endowment for Excellence’s online giving page.