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Preparing Myself for Grad School

by Kawner Sistrunk, Field Camp Alum 2023, currently a M.S. Student at University of Florida

When I was preparing for field camp, I had several friends who took ISU’s field camp course give me a rundown of what my weeks would look like. The most important thing that they reminded me to do was to work hard and be prepared to learn. Because of this, I expected that most of my days would consist of working either in the field or at the field station. Although I did have days where I had to take my entire day to finish an assignment, there was a good portion of my time that I got to spend relaxing at the field station and looking up at Borah Peak.

I had some field experience prior to field camp, but being at field camp still presented challenges that made me a better geoscientist. Each week, we were paired up with a new partner. It was rare to have two people paired up who had the same background. It is sometimes difficult to be open to different ways of thinking, but being paired up with someone allows you to learn from them and them to learn from you. This provides an environment where you each become better geoscientists, and I can say that I learned a few thing from the set of partners I had. Another challenge that I experienced from this field camp is viewing and understanding the geology of the area. There are many geological features in central Idaho, and by taking ISU’s field camp, I had the opportunity to learn about nearly all of them. 

A couple months prior to field camp, I was offered a position in graduate school. Although I was excited for the opportunity, I also did not feel like my field skills were as strong as they could be especially when I knew I was going into a structural geology position. After the five weeks of field camp, I felt more than prepared. Field camp changes the way you think about relationships in the field. It strengthens your field knowledge exponentially. With the combined classroom knowledge of my undergraduate education and field knowledge from field camp, I felt qualified to move on and start my master’s degree. Whether you are going into a graduate program or into industry, the field camp experience with ISU will give you the proper skills to prepare you for that position.

The ISU field camp is built for geoscientists to expand their knowledge, but this does not imply that good times will not be had. Some of my favorite memories of field camp include the hikes that I went on with my friends, both new and old. We made it high into the Lost River range and got a look at some incredible sights. On one particular trip, we found a lake with ice still leftover from the winter. Because we never knew when we’d ever be back up that trail, a couple of us jumped into the freezing lake. I think that was the coldest I have ever felt in my life, but I will remember that hike forever. 

Overall, ISU’s field camp was an amazing experience that I will not soon forget. The geology of the area is extremely interesting, and I enjoyed learning more about it. I love being in the field, and ISU’s field camp gave me the opportunity to be in the field nearly every day. Each week added on new challenges in understanding the relationships between the rocks, and we were able to contemplate these ideas with a new partner each week. The friendships I made at field camp are unlike any others because we all persevered through field camp together. Aside from the work and the friends, the extraordinary views of the landscape are breathtaking.  If you’re considering ISU’s field camp, get ready to work hard and have a great time. It won’t be easy, but you’ll have a lot of fun if you’re ready to apply yourself and learn. I will always remember the new concepts I learned, the amazing sights I experienced, and the great friendships I made.